[ c o m p l a c e n t ] there is a small, well-known coffee shop. and inside that coffee shop a young man walks through the front door. clean, grey sweatshirt. zips up the front. newly cut hair. he makes eye contact with a young woman sitting alone at a far table. her eyes are wide. hair pulled back. she smiles brightly and he joins her. they’ve met before. know each other well. conversation picks up quickly. she plays with the lid of her coffee cup as she watches his mouth move. he’s talking about swordfish. soyfish? no. swordfish. when was the last time she tried it? the proper way to grill it. his eyes spend most of the time out the window beside them. but his fist, always extended towards the center of the table. his feet set far away from his own body. closer to hers. chairs feel restricting. like islands. eventually he leans his weight over the table. speaks softer. i enjoy you. her eyes stay steady on his. i enjoy you. he looks down. her eyes on his neck. the clenched muscle in his jaw. i enjoy you. i enjoy you. i enjoy you. hands towards the center of the table. feet entangled. body language. i imagine what it might feel like to play the game of give and take. what it must feel like not to have to worry about silly things like being misunderstood.
[ g i v i n g ] outside the grocery store with a newborn baby in her shopping cart. and a toddler in a white dress. she asks me to help her buy her children food. but look at the toddler. how can you smile if you don’t have food? suddenly i can’t remember how to feed a person. I ask her to clarify. as if her words weren’t the right shape to fit inside my ears the first time. give me. please. and in my wallet is a ten dollar bill. then another. and then a third. three ten dollar bills. and before i know it i have only two. and i’m walking home. and i can’t stop staring at the marigolds in my hand that I bought just before i met the woman. and i feel sick, like i drank pool water. because i have nightmares about looking a person in the eyes and wondering whether or not they’re telling me the truth. two little children. oh, i really can’t stop staring at those beautiful marigolds. and finally i settle. somehow. somewhere. because i must step over a tree whose roots are growing through the goddamn sidewalk. i settle on the fact that she may not have bought her daughters food. she may have used the money to pay for alcohol. or to keep her husband from getting angry again. But Oh, for crying out loud, where has my mind gone? maybe the money was for a warm rotisserie chicken that cost $8.99 and will keep her children full for the evening. her voice like wet rain on hot pavement. thank you young lady. Thank you. and in that slice of an unexpected moment, i am almost positive, she was happy. and maybe that’s too much for me to assume. but maybe. Maybe that’s all i could expect to give someone.
[ s h a r e ] share a password that you bought with the girl in the green headphones and the black lace tights. You never know how it may make her smile. How she’ll watch you for a moment longer than your interaction, just to make sure of you. And you may never know how she wants to tell stories, just like you do. Just like you.