I am waiting and waiting, an empty seat
at our dinner table of four longs to be filled
for Thanksgiving. But when father arrives
All will be well.
If the phone in the center of the wooden
table rings its lyric tune, Mother will exhale
for the first time since last June.
We will hear
the rumbling of the engine outside
our double-bolted door. No need
for a jingling of the keys,
as Jared paces by the window blinds.
I am just waiting and waiting, when the Grandfather
strikes eleven o’clock, mother and Jared
exchange glances. Their eyelids, boulders,
weigh heavy on their slender frames.
yet my pupils trace anticipation.
Jared only has sixteen years, my mother forty-one,
their dark hair turned white like the clumps of snow
starting to drift last night. Father only missed
a few dozen dinners and a hundred telephone calls,
the landlord has missed none.
So Mother started working at the pharmacy last week,
But I swear no panacea exists for the empty seat
behind the dinner table. Or my muted stomach,
Its contents stuffed with rotten turkey,
Overloaded with expired gravy,
And full of bland pumpkin pie.
But I am not full,
I am still waiting
Lisa Zou is a sixteen-year-old junior in Arizona. She is the winner of the Mount Mercy Creative Writing Contest and a 2nd place winner in Writing For Peace's Young Writers Competition. She has been recognized by the National Council of Teachers of English as well as Library of Congress's Letters About Literature. Lisa is currently on a writing scholarship at Mesa Community College and has been published in The Apprentice Writer, The Claremont Review, and the National Poetry Quarterly, among others. In her free time, she enjoys writing speeches and complaining about physics.