At Charlie Mann’s All-Pro Grill

March 4, 2018

It does no good to look for what you want to see.


I know. I do it, too, and too often, and too often

I’m looking straight through


time again — and again I’m lost.

This is the story:


I’m sitting alone at the bar

at Charlie Mann’s All-Pro Grill at an airport

in Washington, DC.

Alone with a cheeseburger and draft beer

in this other-crowded restaurant —


And I see you walking by,

After all these years,


And you are at peace, of course,

And you’ve aged well, of course,

And, of course, you turn my way,


After all these years,

As if you expect to see me.


It does no good to look for what you want to see —


to see you in some passing-through place,

where we’ll talk again, as we once did.

                                    Pick up that last conversation.

and carry it forward in seamless stride.


With a bit of leisure and patience, two people

can believe they have a lifetime to shape.

Until they don’t.


At Charlie Mann’s All-Pro Grill at the airport

in Washington, DC,


You turn and see me

And gather up the tangled nest

Of intervening years

In the phrasing of a small gesture.


Except that it’s not you.


I couldn’t make this true. I watch

the not-you disappear into the crowd,

then turn to the steady hubbub of strangers.

My neighbor at the bar is hungrily devouring his burger.

I order another beer — a stout I’ll drink slowly.


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