I keep my eyes open when I look at you.
Your lips read: espresso for here, please
& my fingertips tap against the plastic screen
& I slide it to you with
my eyes open.
You criss-cross your skin, diagramming the name
you’ve owned for years, & before
you leave for the corner table, you
reach deep into your pockets.

I’ve met you before–
on busy days, on the minute
and I wonder:

What is compelling you
to give me your dollars?

Can you reach across this marble countertop
and feel the visions that beat within my wrists
that flood the soft caverns of my ears? Is that
what compels you to fund me?

I do not dishonor you with
exaggerations, gestures of service
that cut teeth against teeth.
Nor do I extend to you
any palm which would not care to grasp yours.
So can I believe I’ve got that much to do
with the coins in your palm that clink
metal against glass–? Could it be

that in seeing me, seeing you,
and sensing that I am here because
I want to be,
the breadth of us here can extend
the weight of some coins
in pocket—?

This I would choose to believe,
if I had not the nagging sensation
it might be a show. That the woman
with red lipstick in line behind you
would not offer you more affirmation
than the knowledge of where you put me in line
with my dreams.
Perhaps it is
that generosity to the harmless girl
makes one feel less hollow.

now I see a white haired beauty
with eyes of sun and smile of sea–

& I see you unfold your hand towards me—
& at the horizon where your eyes and smile meet
I see the river run deeper
then coin based transaction.

When I give you hot tea
with a beaker of milk, I do so
because I want to.
Do you wonder why?


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