Note: This is a poem I wrote several years ago, and have been trying to revise for some time, but haven't come up with ay bright ideas. Maybe your fresh eyes can help guide me toward what the poem wants to become. In any event, I post this to celebrate what it means to be with other people, even strangers.
11 O’CLOCK DINER
Expecting nothing but quiet,
I should’ve remembered better.
At 11 o’clock
no one wants to eat.
We eat to give our hands, our introversion
something to do,
our extroversion one more thing to talk about.
We tolerate décor that mocks
grandmother’s living room
to gather around tables that, like grandmother’s
always welcome us.
As packed as a shopping corridor,
as communal as a minivan on family vacation.
As undiscovered as the deepest canyons in the deepest
seas of our collective soul,
the 11o’clock diner is
now and always the hidden public square.
We come here to relax, to laugh and to yell
but unbeknownst to us we come here
to find that part of ourselves
that screams to be found,
that part that’s hidden as we walk or drive down the street
keeping to ourselves, looking shady to everyone
because we’re afraid of everyone.
But for some reason when we’re in the right place
our guard is let go of and we dance,
on pleather, no less, but we dance
throw blank stares, confused looks
but we look and we see with our eyes.
We see into stranger’s souls and smile
like we rarely ever do.
They smile back, and we know we
are found, that we have returned.