40. At the Bipedal Cafe

He walks in the evening, a perfect autumn

evening just after sundown, the only light

from yellow leaves, to the cafe for coffee

and raspberry-apple pie, what he shouldn’t eat

at all, much less so late. A woman is performing

a monologue with songs, her voice shifting

from cockney to electronic amplified, the cafe

jammed so late. He finds a seat near the back

to eat the pie, half-listening. It is good to be alone

with himself. Then he is standing in a trout stream

in New Jersey, a place that made him happy

thirty years ago, in a pool with deep pockets

he loved to fish at night, just before the bats

came out. He knows where the fish are. He has

not moved from that pool in all of these years

but has forgotten that he is there, until now

as he begins to eat the pie, the night returns,

the pull of the current toward solitude,

the night before him a blank wall, the boundary

between the past and the future, where he is

now, and he does not have to do anything.

He does not have to invite anyone to be with him

there. And anyone looking at the place where

he is standing would see nothing. He is eating pie

and drinking coffee at the Bipedal Cafe after dark.

Portland, Oregon,

August 2013 1 January 2014

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