The coffeehouse concerts at college always draw me, but I always start to draw inward after I find my corner. Something about the stirring crowd, the cozy lights, and the fact that I have to shout in order to be heard by the person next-chair causes this “quiet observer” mode in me. Usually, my mind and pen can’t get away from a bitter taste of the shallow – the frailties of our race that haunt even our most beautiful tries.
Most often, it’s my favorite. Early for the prime corner, I plan to drink my fill of the evening;
But this time’s not the same, from the start.
Customary paper-covered tables for crayon scrawling;
But something about a pencil and journal page is (oddly) more appealing.
3-per-table tea lights, someone’s floor lamp – the glow is sweet;
But the performers up there are almost buried in their shadows.
Good song – Sufjan is a genius of a man. And I had no idea you were such a beast at that instrument.
But most talent doesn’t dazzle. Do they think they are singing in unison right now?
I ask a friend why her face is heavy;
But the crowd’s din is deafening, so she draws a schoolgirl’s hearts and initials to say she misses someone.
Time for coffee, if I can get to it;
But it’s watered-down or something. I drink it anyway, the donut might have helped.
Eye contact with deep eyes across a black-diamond-level maze of tables, chairs, and oblivious others;
But he probably wasn’t even looking at me.
Time to sit and listen again – or try;
But the instruments are too loud and I just want the busy room to hush. Even a murmur would be nice.
Someone’s announcing a trivia question for a prize –
But either no one’s listening, or no one keeps track of celebrity baby names anymore.
So many pretty people in trendy clothes. I especially like the rolled-up plaid look,
But that’s all of the boys tonight. Just one big blur of flannelled men.
I finger my new beaded bracelet with the silver tree clasp. After 22 years, Daddy’s still my Valentine.
But that doesn’t mean I don’t long for another one. Some days more than others.
Attempted conversation. I laugh a lot, of course.
But it might not be real this time. I just can’t make my life sound interesting enough.
A new arrival picks up the burnt orange Crayola; will this be another friendly doodle contest?
But his face speaks a more serious intent.
I glance down, and see curiously written amidst the table’s sad, scribbled mess:
CHRIST WAS BROKEN FOR YOU.
Next to the most beautifully most Emptied and Alone on a tree.
Strangely stunned, I am drawn beyond the noisy place to the Truth on the next morning’s table.
The image of true fullness lingers as I leave,
Running to drink deeper.