Meeting Strangers for Coffee

Maybe it all boils down to effective opening:
finding hints in your eyes obscured by coffee smoke,
the fidgeting glances, back-and-forth,
the awkward conversations short
-cut by the barista calling your name.

And whatever may pour
from billowing cup to fruits of smile,
we hear and feel between the highs
the wariness in every phrase
we uttered after ‘Hi.’

Hello [familiar fear],
I’ve never been more lost
in silence, in the dark
clouds hovering above
our table, dimming light—

I realized I liked you better under shadow
but for the sips you staged for misdirection.

Believe me, I understand,
and I, too, am a little frightened.

— A. P.


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