I said something like how long have you lived there?

and you said something like

Four years,

or maybe it was “more years” I 

wasn’t sure because of your mask.

You said four years, and it’s four flights up.

And I said

you must be in good shape (I said something like that),

And you said

I am now!

And we both laughed.


And I hoped you could see when I smiled,

when I was smiling, if I was smiling.

I hoped you could see

the curve of my cheeks pushing up, jostling

my mask’s damp edge.

I felt your smile

and I thought you could feel mine.


You said something like

Let’s walk this way for awhile

and I said, you drive,

and you drove.


We spent hours together.

You said something like -- do you need to ….

And I said no, no, not yet.

You said, no?

Yes, I said something like, no, yes,

let’s keep going,

let’s go.

And we went.


You said something like

there’s an outdoor Starbucks

somewhere over here.

And I said something like

are there a lot of empty stores here now?

I was nervous,

felt compelled to fill the space

with something like words.

And sometimes

I could see the curve of your cheeks

pushing up

and I saw something like a smile,

or I felt something like a smile,

or something like that.


Later still

I said something like … do you have to …

and you said no, I have plenty of time.

I don’t need to go, you said.

Then you said

why would I want to leave?

How can I resist?

You paused, then said

this Starbucks --  on this day and at this time --

it’s special.


You paused again.


Then you said -- 

the ambiance!

you said, the cold wind,

the aroma of car fumes in your face

the pigeons’ wings beating up a breeze that shoots

disgusting feathers across our table?


Somehow, I heard everything you said so clearly.


I’m not going anywhere, you said,

as you pulled your mask down

and showed me your smile.