“While I Wait” by Brooke James

Brooke James


At the sidewalk café
a white-haired man
asks for coffee, hot,
cream, no sugar.

His daughter touches his sleeve
and points—the cranberry scones 
in the glass case—
your favorite, remember?

His granddaughter splashes
in the ceramic dog bowl 
brimming with cool water 
on the porch step

where I sit shielding my eyes 
from the sun with a menu,
the salmon pink impatiens
in the clay pots tremble 

when a concrete mixer rumbles by,
spinning its vanilla and orange striped drum.
Look, I whisper to the little girl,
a swirled ice cream cone on wheels. 

Late August drifts by,
settles on my sun-warmed knees.
A friend of mine died 
last week, I say to no one

as I wait for you to cross the street,
waving as you come.

from Rattle #71, Spring 2021


Brooke James: “The poems that really stay with me are the ones in which the big and small moments of life intermingle. This is what I attempted to achieve with ‘While I Wait’: a late summer afternoon in a sidewalk café, made memorable by salmon pink petunias, the death of a friend, cool water in a dog bowl, and you crossing the street to meet me, your hand outstretched in greeting.” (web)

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