all poems and photographs
© by Maya Stein

all poems and photographs
© by Maya Stein
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Tuesday, February 08, 2005

coming clean

the strangest of things, this ratio
between telling the truth
and hiding it
how much I wanted to tell the woman at the cafe yesterday
she was speaking too loudly, overloudly,
and what she was saying
wasn't worth the noise.
she was talking with a friend about how much
she hated small talk
and i wanted to tell her to stop complaining already
and get with the program,
she didn't need the small talk
she was older, now, could get to the center
of things, could tell her dates anything
forget that stuff about how long
she's lived in this city or how tiresome
the commute is to the job in San Jose,
even if the benefits
are keeping her there
small talk
she was talking small
but loud and oh how I wanted to tell her
to shut the fuck up, i was reading
or just having my coffee, but either way
she was disrupting the peace.

i said nothing, felt
embarrassed, if that's the word,
to say anything, and kept my own mouth shut
and small
said nothing, and the coffee was bitter,
the words on the page kept
repeating themselves,
i said nothing,
and nothing, in the end, was said.

and realizing, this morning, waking up,
the things i've hidden
even from myself
the small embarrassments
the daily precipice i dance against
the dizzying grief of questions marks
like
what are you going to do with this life
and
why haven't you been working to your potential
and
why haven't you been working
and
where is the money going to come from
and
where is your money going
and
when are you going to grow up, girl?

i wonder, if i'd said these things aloud
would the woman in the cafe have called me foolish
or simply knotted herself into a tight coil
of furious silence, found her life needlessly interrupted
by my personal metaphysics?
would my talk have been small and overloud to her?
would she have found my questions childish
and hopelessly uninteresting?
would she tell me to get with the program, sister,
because these aren't at all
the questions to be asking?
would she have reminded me
to drink my coffee
while it was still hot?


8 comments:

Anonymous said...

are you sure you were drinking coffee, maybe it was tea?

Anonymous said...

Love this piece Maya!

xoandrea

Anonymous said...

Exactly. That's all I can say. Your words are so EXACT...right on...dead on.

Anonymous said...

That's a great poem,
thanks for writting it!

Stef said...

I love this...thank you for sharing.

Marilyn said...

Here via Andrea's link... Great poem. I was having the same thoughts about a man at the table next to us at dinner last night. So very many words, and so little said...

me said...

thank you! so great that you actually wrote a piece about the way that situation feels and brought it out. I have been in that situation many times and not said anything either...and it just festers :)
xo
hollie

Dale said...

-- This is where I came in. This is a wonderful poem.