I spoke to the Indian cashier
and you smiled a quiet smile;
and glancing from the corner of my eye
I knew you understood.
I grabbed my receipt
and you made way as I stood by.

We stood silently for our meals
At least, I did.
You spoke to the waiter.
My tray came before yours
and as I walked away,
you fidgeted at the counter.

I looked up from my food after a while
and you sat two tables away,
eating, staring at a distant wall.
I didn’t expect you to join me,
or look at me, or even face me.
I expected nothing at all.

An acquaintance walked in,
he waved, we greeted,
you looked up at my voice.
Then you looked down again
and ate in silence;
you had pretty much no other choice.

I finished, got up with my tray
(you looked enquiringly)
and slowly walked past you.
Through the corner of your eye
you saw me empty it, and leave,
and I saw you watching me too.

If you would speak to me,
or greet or smile as I left,
I just wonder, would I?
Perhaps not; I’m tired of being nice
or meeting new people
or simply saying an empty goodbye.

– March 2013


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