Ghosts, an Outdoor Cafe
by Dave Seter
Her lips form an over-tightened bow,
withholding her gift of riverine words,
while she squints towards the overflowing fountain.
His and hers—innards of burritos—lay spilled
on cobalt blue ceramic plates. The couple
shares a table. From where I sit I can see
the boyfriend clearly dislikes fountains.
He itches tattoos and stubble and lifts his face
toward the sun, then stands and demands
she hold his cigarette (he’s going inside for a piss).
Why am I reminded of playgrounds,
third grade, girls wearing their first dresses
to school against the odds of tripping feet
thrust into the world by wordless boys?
The fact that the woman obeys
speaks to the symbiosis couples fall into.
Should it even matter to me that, inward-turning,
the woman inspects cigarette, fingernails,
reaches into the adjacent planter, plucks
and gently touches a rosemary feather
to the still‑lit cigarette? She follows the smoke
rising. Is it any business of mine,
the way people set loose their ghosts?