Mr. Christian

“Mr. Christian”
read the red plastic tag
on the white linen jacket
of the black dining car attendant
laughing and calling us
“Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor
traveling incognito!”
and saying we needed a special wine
which he found
to go with our lobster Newberg.

Some others didn’t like his service
and said so often and loudly
(in the only dining room for eighteen hundred miles)
which is why he didn’t serve them well.
Rude passengers turn fantastic waiters
deaf, dumb and blind.

The kitchen staff provided entertainment.
After some incomprehensible shouting
we heard dishes, glasses crashing.
Then Mr. Christian peeked and closed the kitchen door.
Looking back toward us, smirking,
arms folded as he leaned against the door,
he said “There seems to have a slight al-ter-ca-tion”
as the steward pushed his way into the fight.
The new calm was broken by the steward’s
“Do that again I put your ass off in Oakland!”

That was leaving Seattle, lunch time.  
Our dinner with Mr. Christian was near Eugene.
Special salads, excellent steaks, special red wine.  
Would we have the dessert — strawberry shortcake
which wasn’t on the menu but is, for you two?
It was embarrassingly enormous.  It was delicious.
We asked Mr. Christian to join us for drinks later
     but he couldn’t;      against the rules.
Well, goodbye, and thank you; 
we’ll be off the train before breakfast.

We saw him once more.
Next morning a knock on our bedroom door
and Mr. Christian telling us that the train’s delay
meant a continental if relatively uneventful

And thank you.