Darren Morris, “There Is a Woman at Starbucks”

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There Is a Woman at Starbucks Talking into her Device

There is a woman at Starbucks talking into her device.
She is talking through the door, through standing in line,
through waiting her turn, and through ordering a complicated
fake Italian drink. She never halts her Socratic yammering,
which is to say, the development of an unformed idea,
a thought so uncertain as to tremble under the timbre
of her authority, amplified to counterweight, the way
a ballast of rough stone is kept in a ship’s hull
to hold it steady and afloat. That same heaviness
keeps her aloft, even as she waits for her coffee to arrive.
Her name is Melody, according to the barista,
who neatly thanks her for the second time, and again
the woman says, “The service is unbearably
shitty here.” She does not stop exchanging, presumably
with the device. I wonder if she was one of those who
wrote a blog. I explore how she might very well sit
in the coffee shop all day and yammer, pretending to write
her advice essay, annexing space, her child astride
in a modified perambulator equipped with bicycle tires
so she could jog with it if she wanted. Jog and blog and
parent and get a tax break and exchange with the device.
The blog is probably about wanting to forgive herself
for wanting to hurt the child. A justification. But she can’t
buy in to the way we are fashionably forced to worship
our kids. You teach them how to abandon you and that is all.
You were good enough to have them. Let’s leave it at that.
If it really was a miracle I don’t think we should get a tax break for it,
because, well, what does it say about us? That we need
to be incentivized? Maybe that’s what Melody would write today,
if she wrote. Something political. And she would write it too,
if only she could stop yammering into her device.
I was just then middling in a period of my life, slipped into
after a dozen or so deep disappointments or failures
had arrived one after the other like seasons or how one
arrives within a conversation, as a day which could make
the season disappear so that all that could be felt
was a sort of wan nothingness. I had been debating whether
I should continue going among the people. Or if
I should quit them again. I didn’t know if I was going to make it.
Yet I wasn’t even sad, and I wasn’t worried about not being sad.
And the yammerer never stopped exchanging with her device.
And the expression on the child’s face. That look of forever.
Of one day middling into the next. Like waves beneath
an empty vessel until, as if out of fog, an uncertainty arose.
So that as the sacred infant opened its mouth to yowl
I placed upon its tongue one smooth pebble from my hold.


Darren Morris’s other publications include: The American Poetry Review, The Missouri Review, The Southern Review, New England Review, North American Review, The National Poetry Review, Best New Poets, and many others.


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