My friends' words amble toward me in sentences
brimming with leisure and graceful as a gauzy summer dress.
We are four women having coffee on a warm Alabama morning,
and I am a guest from Chicago sharing the comfort of caffeine.
My conversation is like a strand of glass beads,
each word tightly tied to the other, a string of plosive sounds.
I pause to breathe, every thought in place, and wait for a reply.
Their words undulate close to me, browsing the beads.
They hold up one and then another.
The women's thoughts glide over mine with unhurried ease
as they consider and savor my meaning,
taking time to sip some coffee,
to admire the garden, to pause before moving on.
My mouth opens and words rush out
to fill each second of their silence.
I complete their sentences, guess conclusions.
My sentences push and pull.
Theirs wait with polite patience.
While I struggle into stillness, a cat stretches at my feet.
And once more, the humid air around me
fills with the strolling interplay
of words and ideas that find time sweet.
This poem first appeared in Potpourri,1999.
Used here with the author’s permission.