Snapping his fingers
at the steaming cutlery before me
the restaurant manager says,
one piece at a time
until I can see my reflection.
A man with a ponytail and everything to lose,
all day he’s tuned up the credit card machine
until Amex Black whipped through it
like a Lamborghini.
Opening night, July fourth weekend in the Hamptons.
We tighten our aprons.
One of the bartenders, Ludo,
tugs at my apron knot in passing, Ça va toi?
My spine goes electric.
The smell of cut lime
lingers around my waist.
The bartenders are all chiseled men
in their thirties, francophone and bussed-in
from Manhattan for the season:
Brice and Seb, Henri, Ludo, Saïdou.
Sleeves rolled up, their triceps look edible,
their syllables voluptuous in dim lighting.
What they want is their own bar, a motorcycle,
to make snow angels in cash come Labor Day,
disappear into the corners of Asia,
but also something else…
as Ludo palms a lime, rolls it slowly
along the cutting board, winks at me,
whispers to Seb,
thrusts the cash register closed, then
smacks a shaker open all at the same time-
fills two glasses
with glistening margaritas.
At dusk we light the votives. They flicker
like jewels on the white tablecloths,
fire to shadow. Music starts with a lounge-lit
beat, a bass that ignites.
The bar glows orange, Ludo tells a joke and
ten women erupt in laughter, bubbling
over like a sauce I want to taste.
My section is next to the bar,
the section for walk-ins and those who only want
dessert, the beginner section, I’m 17,
young as my hair is long, live around the corner
with my parents, wear this summer job
like I wear a bikini,
hiding nothing that I want.
I lean over to straighten a fork,
every tiny muscle in my body
poised in action and waiting.
I catch Ludo eyeing me again
and a current ripples through me.
He shakes another round of margaritas,
motions me over
to his secret glass-
and as I walk over, I realize
all I want now
is to be that shaker,
and about to be opened.