In Seta’s café on Belmont Street
the menus scorch our hands. Arriving
by trolley bus in a blue
shower of sparks, we left
our fellow passengers tired
of the grunt and grind of crawling
from Harvard Square to the suburbs—
the gaunt rumple of Mount Auburn
pimpled with thousands of headstones
grimacing as we passed. We order
mezze to munch while we talk.
Hummus, metch, yalanchi, stuffed
cabbage washed down with espresso
and trimmed with slabs of za’atar.
We should never leave this warmth
and street view, should recuse
or refine our lifelong quarrel
so we can work in the kitchen
together, washing dishes, chopping
vegetables, sleeping on the floor
after hours when the buses
have parked behind chain-link fence
and the commuters snore all spooned
against each other. You fear me,
though, fear my agnostic silence,
my subtle readings of Emerson,
my lust for expensive power tools,
my disbelief in photographs
my nostalgia for the whiskey death
Dylan Thomas so deeply enjoyed.
The café hums with pride in itself.
The plate glass windows shiver
as another bus passes. Cups
and saucers rattle. Other patrons
grow intimate with each other,
but we lean back and order
spinach and cheese turnovers
to anchor us to conversation
shaped by duty rather than love.