She wore a faded smock, her name tag spelled wrong, not her own. (It belonged to someone Betty had loved long ago) It hung askew. Burn scars on her arms, badges of honer to a fry-cook of old, time worn wariness in her blue eyes. With a viynl coated lunch menu, Betty Idley stood swatting flies.
She had her hair-net on, pen behind one ear, truck drivers at the counter stopped chewing, they were laughing at Godfrey, she asked of him, “So you are a poet? “We don’t get to many of your kind in here”.
In a sticky corner booth of The Ramble Cafe, I sat across from my friend, The Vagabond Godfrey. He was eyeing my cake, having gobbled his already, awaiting the moment my back would be turned. We had played this game to his delight before. I pretended not to notice him, watching the cook I could see peeling boiled eggs through the open kitchen door.
Did you say you are a poet? Betty said, asked, sizing up Godfrey, “Yes said he, “I write, on occasion, sometimes, now and then, put page to pen, communicate via rhyme, jot it down, we are shopping for new underthings today in town.
He snitched my cake mid-chat, as I dabbed tears of laughter with a paper serviette. Betty joined us in the booth, to share a word or two, she brought her book of poems and carrot cake, with whipped cream on mine, rich as her poetic imagery was line for line.
GRILLED CINNAMON BUN- Bye Betty Idely, The day’s rising of the sun, causes me to burn my tongue. Impatient to devour you, my grilled cinnamon bun. Soft, golden crust, so easily you open wide, lovingly I spread Margarine side to side. Lay you gently on the warm flat-top, I pour my morning tea until you are ready for me. Every day on you I burn my tongue, my love, my grilled cinnamon bun..Deep in poetry’s trance I left the two of them in thrall, to collect Godfrey later when done shopping at the mall.
CRANBERRY MUFFINS- Bye Betty Idely, Every morning of every day, they sit in the cafe with nothing to say anymore to each other. Roy and Dale I will call them. A dour old pair, they order wheat toast dry, and cranberry muffins that they never eat and I have never asked “Why”? . For they pick out all the berries and whose muffin has the most, unwanted cranberries has the say, on how the old couple spend their day..I had to ask Roy, more talkative of the two, if the number is the same, whatever do you do? “Nothing” said Roy in reply..on Sundays they have marmalade, spread in silence on wheat toast dry.
DUMPLINGS IN THE OVEN- Bye BETTY IDLEY- He baked dumplings in the oven. Rubbery and black, they were flecked green with dill weed to.
“Said I to the Chef, why are these not light and fluffy, gold as parsnip, in the Beef Stew”? The nasty chef replied, scratching at his greasy head,”I baked them in the oven- is that not what you said for me to do?.
..At half past three I returned to Ramble Cafe, Betty and Godfrey sat, booth piled high with poetry..and late that night in my turquoise chair, he wrote the Ballad of The Ramble Cafe, and the long road Betty the cook took to get there.
He wrote, “She was raised on rhymes, her Ma sang while she worked, elbow deep mixing Meat-Loaf. “Read books and verse Ma lectured the little girl, they will be your true friends through the lonely and the hard times”
“She shared me though we knew each other briefly this wisdom, carried like a treasure lifelong from her Mum, nothing could break the good cook Betty, grand observer of life, and writer of poetry’