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What's In a Name
Ellaraine Lockie

He didnít come to Starbucks
for coffee yesterday or today
I listen for the tap-tap of his cane
The breath that sighs from the easy chair
next to mine as he sinks into it every morning
When I drag out my mental scrapbook
from a summer in Osaka to manage
Konnichewa or Ohayo Gazaimasu

He tries simple English
like the haiku he grew up with
Silent words sometimes shape our lips
His scowl when someone beats me to my chair
My smile at his vigilance

Mostly we rely on fingers
A tap on his shoulder before
I hand him a piece of chocolate
Curl of his pointer when his voice fails
and I lean in for his Thank you
A not-to-worry wave when he shuffles
to the restroom

I like this limited relationship
The almost romance of it
The quiet between us and the mystique
I worry and want to call him
now that Iíve finished my refill
But realize I donít even know his name

From Coffee House Confessions (Silver Birch Press, 2013).
Used here with the authorís permission.

Ellaraine Lockie lives in Sunnyvale, CA, where she is a full-time writer of poetry, nonfiction books and essays; a freelance writing workshop instructor; poetry editor for the lifestyle magazine, Lilipoh; and a frequent judge of literary contests. Her poetry is widely published and awarded and she is the author of 11 books, the most recent being Coffee House Confessions, from Silver Birch Press, in which this poem appears. Her chapbook, Stroking David's Leg, received the Best Individual Collection Award for 2010 from Purple Patch magazine in England, and Red for the Funeral won the 2010 San Gabriel Poetry Festival Chapbook Contest. Ellaraine is also a professional papermaker who has worked with community projects in that capacity in South Africa and for various U. S. businesses. A video featuring Ellaraine's poetry, handmade papers, and handbound books can be seen here.


Post New Comment:
Original and delightful.
Posted 04/26/2013 12:35 PM
I have had many limited relationships such as this. They turn out to be the most meaningful, a non-verbal expression of faith, community, and culture. How words often get in the way of what the heart wishes to exhude.
Posted 04/23/2013 09:33 AM
Beautiful. Ellaraine proves over and over again that there is poetry all around us, all we have to do is take time to notice it.
Posted 04/22/2013 12:24 PM
Lovely as always. I can smell the coffee!
Posted 04/22/2013 12:02 PM
Ralph Murre:
Awwww and awe, Ellaraine. Y'get me every time.
Posted 04/22/2013 11:33 AM
chris schulz:
"The quiet between us and the mystique" yes, that place where soul resides. Thank you!
Posted 04/22/2013 11:24 AM
What a beautiful piece. I've had some relationships of this nature, and I have always found them to be some of the most precious. Kudos for a job well done!
Posted 04/22/2013 11:11 AM
Fine, sensitive poem.
Posted 04/22/2013 11:03 AM
Ellaraine, All the unknowns that are part of our daily lives--people who touch our souls. Thank you for this poem.
Posted 04/22/2013 10:12 AM
Glen Sorestad:
Thank you for this poem, Ellaraine!
Posted 04/22/2013 09:36 AM
warm and true poem, Ellaraine, about so many people that pass through our life unnamed..thanks
Posted 04/22/2013 09:33 AM
Beautiful! Makes me want to go out for coffee and experience such a moment - the fleeting, sensitive connection wth a stranger / friend.
Posted 04/22/2013 08:38 AM
Wow! Lovely poem!
Posted 04/22/2013 08:17 AM
This is poetry at its best! So beautiful.
Posted 04/22/2013 07:51 AM
There are all kinds of friendship and romance, aren't there?
Posted 04/22/2013 05:26 AM

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