Outside In


by Suzanne Allen

The café has a happy-hour
crowd. They smoke and offer-up
their pocket change, drink standing at the bar.
Inverted in the silver glass on ceilings
and supports are people as they pass
so that I see them twice, three times, or four,
or just their heads—their hurried steps
muffled in February snow
to shuffles only heard when someone comes
or leaves. The swinging door is glass, both push
and pull the way the foreign language
does at lips and cheeks and
eyes around the room. The windows
frame les Invalides—its great,
gold dome.

Hospitable, the demitasses, saucers
sing the barman’s song. He stacks them high
and whistles so as not to have to speak
and fills my glass at just a nod—but
as I do, I catch the top of someone’s head
deep in the mirrors—a dark-haired, balding man
is standing somewhere near. I see him there,
then here and think it’s you until
I find his face.

I never guessed
your thinning hair would be the thing
I missed and thought I saw amidst
a foreign crowd
that turned my insides

Previously published in Strangers in Paris, Tightrope Press

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