Intimate Strangers, Starbucks

I don’t ask for your name, and

you don’t ask for mine.

But sitting at this counter, here,

at this point in time,

we’re somehow oddly intimate—

our lives are intertwined.

Elbows close enough to touch,

unseen wall between,

you—with your own narrative,

me—with my own dreams.


You have a sleek laptop,

I have my clipboard,

neither looking sideways,

only looking forward.

Both of us pretending

the other isn’t there,

each in her own private space,

acutely unaware.


Despite our isolation,

there’s much that we two share:

the smell of coffee brewing,

the atoms in the air,

the countertop, the music,

the floor beneath our feet,

the press of people all around,

their radiating heat.


So, what makes this transparent wall,

these cubicles we’re in?

Awkwardness, or protocol,

or just our separate skins?

There must be some unspoken code

about crowd courtesy:

I don’t turn to look at you,

and you don’t look at me.




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