a person-poem

yesterday I was doing work at my favorite little coffee shop and then this elderly couple came in. I was struck by how beautiful their interaction was that I stopped working and took out a piece of paper and sketched out this poem.


He leads her in, through a maze

of off-colored couches and armchairs

to a table near the register,

and sits her down in a seat

and maneuvers her feet flat against the floor

and rubs her arm and says,

I’ll be right there. I’ll be right back.

She sits dead-still like a tree

which moves in small bits at the touch

of wind – the rustle of an arm,

a small flinch of eyelid as the window a/c shushes

air across the still pockets of age

that settle on her cheeks,

and on all the corners of her body.

He orders a chocolate milkshake and slice

of cake, sits it down in front of her

and spins the straw around the frosted glass

while she stares the same stare,

and he wraps his creased fingers around hers

and moves her hands in his as though

they were the same branch, the same tree.

She opens her mouth with the sound

like fabric rustling, and lips moving with

effort, a stale repose laying still

across her face. There you go, there you go,

that’s a good bite, there he says and shuffles

the fork to her lips, smiles with all the effort

of wind, a gust or breeze that settles just so.

He wipes crumbs from her face, he lifts her

from her place and thanks the woman

At the register who calls them by name,

And who watches them leave, the same

Way - an arm beneath her elbow, a hand

Against her back, a pause to open the door

and there you go, just like that.

She’ll settle into the car seat

and watch trees, hum quietly at the radio

While they pass the streets she used to know,

And they’ll turn toward home and she will

Not know to thank him for anything when

They get inside, or to ask him questions

When he tells her his thoughts.

He’ll love her with the endurance

Of pulling up her socks

every morning, and she’ll be a tree –

rooted in the same, unchanging season

where the wind rustles the bloom,

her memory, and shades the ground the tree’s in:

of two roots promising not to move.


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