Various and Sundry Poetry

the larger conversation

It was not the man on 24th and Mission asking for change.
It was not the baby, sleeping angelic in her stroller.
It was not the trees, the sunshine, the cloudless perfect sky.
It was the coffee menu at Philz.

For the 20th time or the 1000th,
you might have ordered the small decaf French,
just like you always did,
medium cream, light sweet.
It had become a small habit, like taking your shoes off at the door,
flicking the day's mail on the kitchen counter,
shutting the drapes before bed.

You grow accustomed to things so easily,
turn them into a kind of lifeline to order and security and sanity.

You didn't even know what else was on the menu,
would call out to the barista in a voice not unlike
a robot, flat and meaningless.
You thought you sounded determined, certain, confident, hip,
but really, you were unimaginative, plain, paper-thin.
Someone or something could topple you any second,
you knew that, so you clung to your small decaf French
because you were in the market for anything you could rely on,
that wouldn't destroy the slim grip you were keeping on everything.

And yet, today, without thinking
you uttered the words "Ethiopian," and the woman behind the counter
reached back into a different jar to gather up the beans.

It was a small thing, really, but you saw it
for its metaphor, for the larger conversation
you were beginning to have with yourself.
"Look up," is what you were saying.
"What else is there to see?"