People Who Idea-Watch (And Ideas That People-Watch)
By: Miranda Wojciechowski
It has become something of an inside joke:
How poets flock to the coffee shop on the corner
To stare at each other over the paper rims
Of their Grande café mochas, skim milk only
and an extra shot of espresso, in what they suppose
a covert and highly inconspicuous manner.
Sometimes we bring thick paperbacks to mull over,
eyebrows furrowed in deep concentration,
eyes and ears straying to a nearby couple or
intent on the way the afternoon falls in shafts across
a vacant chair or a pool of spilled cream dripping
off the ledge onto the show of a fellow scribbler.
Mostly, we come to study Life in its natural habitat,
To eavesdrop, to pluck thoughts from the unsuspecting air.
The Imagination often drops by to feed on Archetypes
that seem to thrive on already existent visages, and
of course, we simply enjoy the company of strangers.
(After all, they only utter phrases we slip in their drinks.)
The Abstract occasionally searches for the Concrete
of the city sidewalks, and they duck inside out of the rain
To quietly sip a distillation of themselves and
To gaze out windows at passersby with wide eyes.
Death bought me a cup of tea once, surprising me with
polite small-talk and an easy demeanor as he nibbled a pastry.
He too was interested in Life, its many confined forms.
We talked for hours, the corner of his mouth turned up with
glee at the quixotic beings gaping at reflections of themselves.
We shook hands and he continued about his business, although
Several times I felt Self-Consciousness peeking over my keyboard,
Streaming through the wireless connection to enter my fingertips.
Love noticed I was lost in thought and sent out a search party,
pausing to inquire what I was reading, despite the fact
that I held my collection of short stories upside down and my
coffee had grown cold. With him at my side, I traced grains
in the wood with my mind and wondered if we would have met
had it not been pouring outside. I happily could never find out.
We often leave for the day with a blank page and a dead computer
battery, parting as mutual friends with fictional histories
and perceptions printed in our own separate languages.
My heart is full to the brim with small cramped handwriting
and that lovely sense of Pride swings my hand back and forth,
Walking me home past the streetlamps on wet pavement.