What is it about hipster coffee shops,
always some achingly sexy song playing
like Modern English or The Cure,
Mazzy Star or Joy Division —
something you might have listened to
25 years ago when your own ache
was like a distant star
that had exploded but would still take
decades to reach your life?
Over in the corner at a tiny 2-person table,
a mama with a newborn
nursing in a sling. The scent of rosewater
wafting over. A lonely-looking guy
wearing red headphones
drinking from a lime-green mug.
A social worker on her lunch break,
rainbow ribbon hugging her name tag —
she looks so familiar
you can hardly keep from asking
are you someone?
Of course she is someone. You are someone,
too, sitting there at your laptop
typing a poem
nobody here will see,
not the young man with Down’s Syndrome
not the dude with the funny winter hat,
not the grad student with her Mac
or the cute baby dyke couple
looking like long-lost twins.
It’s raining, just like last time
I sat here, two weeks ago
while my wife retrains her body and brain
just up Main Street,
and I wonder what it is about these gloomy
grey days that brings a certain comfort,
what it is about hipster cafes
and being anonymous in a public space
that is so very freeing.
I’m wearing a faded green t-shirt
that shows off my tattoo
and tight-fitting jeans
with red leather boots,
and this is about as dressed up as I get.
Let’s paint the town red, I want
to say to her when we reunite
in 20 minutes.
Then a woman so skinny
I think her legs may snap
walks in and I cringe,
the mama holds the baby up
for a burp and kisses that tiny head,
and I breathe in wondering
about all of the ways
our lives pass each other by,
our lives pass and yet
no time has passed at all
since I sat here 25 years ago
listening to that same song,
that same sexy ache,
that same refrain.