When I bike home, I don’t listen to music. I listen to the hiss and rush of traffic,
of birds passing overhead, to the zzzz’s that escape from the chain as I coast.
I take a quick left and flash by a dumpster reeking of last nights leftovers
The alleys are marked by wandering trails of thick liquid-
sour mop water, spilled drinks, melted ice and the spit of
a dozen servers who wish smoke breaks lasted all weekend.
There are clear and black straws clogging the flow,
bright yellow lemons and neon limes keep leaves
and wrappers from reaching the bottom of the drain.
In daylight, the alleys are silent
the spills dry and the spent cigarette butts almost look like confetti
but I can’t imagine anyone celebrating such an infamous end.
By night, the kitchen doors are propped open and the sounds of dinner
spill into the streets.
Stainless steel freezers guard the inside entry way
and the crash and rattle of plates is eclipsed by laughter and the shouts of servers.
Smells waft between the buildings, overcoming for a moment the
scent of yesterdays special.
Overturned buckets and broken chairs litter the space between
stacks of cardboard and broken glassware,
poised to offer a brief respite from a double shift.
I turn off the ally onto a street where the
trees reach across the road, their branches intertwining
above the pavement, blocking the stars from the sky,
the galaxies that look like spilled confetti on a dark street.
The sounds of so many servers carrying clean and
filthy silverware die out, to be replaced by the
rushing wind. I speed home to rest my weary feet,
thankful that more than broken chairs and
overturned buckets await them.