The coffee shop of things we have not seen:
All those fragrant surprises new and old
Invite the feet to step in from the cold
And rainy street, with just the door between

A roomful of people, those who are there,
And those who are not. Voices fill the room,
Bright over there, while here we find the gloom
In conversation with an empty chair.

Close by the window, something hot to drink.
And opposite — is that a second cup?
A plume of steam is curling gently up,
With no one there to cause a spoon to clink.

A faint disjunction in the ambient light
Outlines an absence in the curling air
Between the table and the present chair.
Someone sat there before, or someday might.

A truant tablemate can only shrug
At what we might not see, or might forget,
Disdaining any need to be, and yet
Nothing is realer than that steaming mug.

Drain the last drop and then out to the street.
Close by the doorway stands a dripping tree,
A shelter from the urban lunacy
And weary rain that puddles round the feet.

Turn back towards the window — could it be
Someone has occupied that empty seat?
No: only a reflection turns to meet
A rain-blurred face, and nothing else to see.

How shall we parse this day of absent friends?
Inside, the shadows fill a truant’s cup.
Outside, the morning wind is waking up.
The branches move, and then the movement ends.

January 23, 2017

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