Two years later is too long to be haunting the spots where we might bump into each other.  I tell myself I’m there for the soup and because it’s nearby and it’s my city, too, you don’t own the place.  I squeeze into a space at the bar and it’s busy and you’re not there, so I believe myself for a while, and sit there while my mind roams the possible ways to distract myself. Restlessness swells outward, pressing against my skin until my surfaces are all of me, held in place by the pressure of what isn’t.  I tear pieces of bread and notice the butter’s sweetness and the grey-brown taste of the barley soup and the tang of dill. Lately, I’ve begun to eat like an animal, without pleasure, or rather unlike an animal, without concentration or attention to the task of feeding myself.  The couple beside me goes.  For a moment I guard the empty stool beside me, but I can’t keep it empty when you don’t walk in.  You never walk in; you’re never where I think you might be.  I’ve stopped believing in my gut feelings, I think they are manufactured by the part of my brain that does hope.

A man sits down on the empty stool.  He isn’t you.  He looks like Frank McCourt, or like I think Frank McCourt might look, and later, when he says he’s a teacher, too, I wonder briefly, this being New York, if it is Frank McCourt.  Anyway, he sits down and I can feel that he will start a conversation.  I consider closing my face the way you learn to do in a city.  I don’t return his glances but keep myself open, ambiguous, and he asks if I’m a writer.  Loneliness looks like you’re thinking of your novel: it’s a funny thought.  Or it looks like writers are supposed to look, a little haunted, ponderous.


One Response to “XXIII.”

  1. Abe Graef Says:

    So sweet
    to meet
    U over a bowl of soup
    In the Coney Island of the mind
    Luv ur blogs
    Just wish i had more time
    To savor the spot
    Yes indeed
    Lets find each other
    again soon before the ashes
    and embers cool

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