This was going to be somewhat a pastoral poem,
but not anymore. The venue of it has changed
to here, this café, two tables in particular,
and the space between them.
You can forget now about the lines
that would have been, about summer
and cows and patience and grassy smells,
with a measured reference to mortality, maybe,
at the end, tying it all somehow together
like a bow on a birthday gift.
The man at the next table has seen to it
that those lines won’t get written,
with all his looking over and his concern
with what I might be jotting down
between sips of my mocha. He has insisted,
more or less, that this poem be about him
and his sandwich and his pot of tea,
and how could I not make reference
to his bag of groceries leaning against
one of the legs of his chair?
There is a bunch of groceries leaning there,
assembled together in a brown reusable bag,
one that isn’t any bit see-through.
What items the man keeps at the bottom
will remain vast question marks
to the poem for what remains of eternity.
A carton of milk, though, peeps out
over the top of the bag. It is the closest
these lines will have to actual mooing.
He has given me a somewhat pastoral note
on which to finish. I thank him for it.