writing recipe

it’s a mission of place—finding the best bench, booth, corner
of a coffee shop—and it is usually a coffee shop, the low music
of conversation with the occasional staccato of laughter, an
unexpected meeting, a dropped glass. where it is acceptable
to caffeinate to the point of pleasure. I order a four
shot latte and the barista grins, asks if I’m alright. I lie, say
I will be once I get the latte. the baristas’ hands move across
the countertops with the kind of practiced comfort that comes
with months of motion. my own hands vibrate just a little,
a familiar always un-smoothed discomfort, and I open
notebooks around me: a clearly unreasonable
number of bound pages—inside this excess, I can breathe
long enough to think—sometimes packed with tiny, neat
lines of text, sometimes with the monstrous, looping cursive
of internal disorder. it is so hard to keep the mind tidy.

I find myself anywhere with enough people that I can stare,
linger too long on a single person, try to remember as much
as possible. live, for a moment, their lives as I imagine them:
everyone either oblivious or terrified, imagining their own body
naked, either next to or against every other nearby body,
remembering numbers seen recently or the last time they leaned in
to a hand on the base of their spine. everyone on some cusp
of crisis drinking bitter bean-water because it makes them happy
or at least productive. maybe, hopefully, there is also someone
just drinking over-sugared decaf, reveling in the morning’s
thick honey-light. I, too, imagine my body in relief
against the wall of others, what my morning might have seen
if I had awoken next to the crisp-suited man tucked in the corner,
his impossibly thin laptop illuminated and silent; if I was sitting
just down the street, in the shade of a primly named tree
in centennial park, everything I own packed into the square feet
surrounding me. my body ends where my body ends but I
don’t. I am wild on other lives—the taste of new
mouths, the strange drape of unfamiliar cloth. I imagine someone
looking at me, studying with the same hesitant curiosity, each
our own quiet exhibition. we have made displays of ourselves,
humans behind glass. I press my face against what divides us.

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