I sat at a diner years ago
between a man I pretended to love
and a woman I pretended not to.
I reached across to punch the buttons
on the jukebox, and poured more cream into my cup.
Music held the honesty that none of us
had yet grown into. I leaned against the strain.
We were old enough by then
to argue about the country.
Though I can’t retrieve the disagreements,
I cherish all the words.
I never asked them if they felt
what I felt when I saw a gash
in a chain link fence. Or when
the tendrils of ivy grew toward each other
across the painted brick.
I wanted to stand with others
at the bus stop just to feel their kinship.
But the bus came and I didn’t get on.
When the day was over
my roommate sang a cappella in the darkness;
it was the closest thing I had
to knowing someone.