by Frank Thomas Smith
Taking my son to the Collegium Musicum
Is good for his musical future, no doubt;
For me it has advantages, too.
The hour and forty minutes spent
Waiting at the outdoor cafe
Gives me a chance to think in circles.
The bow-tied black-vested waiter brings
my cafecito without me having to ask -
and sweet cookies or a media luna.
The unkempt park across the street,
The flower-printed tablecloths,
Sunglasses in winter, women in jeans,
Newly privatized trains chug by,
The kiosco Revistas - Diarios,
Men smoking, uninhibited here.
I light my pipe, puff blissfully,
My thoughts arrange the past in pairs,
No avoiding that, the future less,
suppressed. What's uppermost is now.
If life is all and this is happiness,
How on earth can death be less?
If life is all, then this is all
And death is all, it follows.
Such thoughts were once reserved
For the philosopher's dreary den,
Here they stoop to invitations
From cafe idlers, now and then.
The First Circle
A young woman passes my table,
A pretty thing whose long black hair
abruptly brushes down in style,
Shoulder bag, miniskirt, enigmatic smile.
Fifty years from now she'll ask
why she did and what she didn’t,
and wonder what's become of her lover.
She'll also know it'll soon be over.
Maybe centuries on from now
She'll pensive sit as some such table,
see me passing by and ponder
If I’m me and not some other.
The Second Circle
The boy waits for the waiter to leave
Then darts across the noonday traffic.
Black street-wise eyes fix
On the patron's eye, bare arm extends
A stubby nail-bitten hand.
The sun-tanned man sees the hand,
Without looking up from his paper,
He shakes His leonine head - no.
Two women in fur ignore the hand,
The eyes, the whole begging boy.
He comes to me. I've read too
That such as he are exploited by
Their masters and giving makes it worse.
I don't know, it may be true,
but what is truth in ignorance?
I give him a peso anyway
in case some day the roles reverse
and I'll be he and he'll be me.
A circle is closed, the second of three.
The Third Circle
The earth is round, more or less,
As are the heads upon our shoulders.
My coffee cup, from the bird's-eye view,
Is round and two-dimensional.
The universe seems to have acquired this time
The shape of an infinite bubble.
Is this what makes the world go round?
No, it's not enough, this observed,
partly thought out rotundity.
The unexpected blow, the theft,
The unknown assassin's thrust,
The smiling traitor's perfidious lie
All smudge the portrait's splendor.
An imponderable enter the equation:
She rounds the corner and looks about
Like a lost child in a fairy fable
Then makes her way to my shaded table.
And takes her place across from me,
For love is an ellipse and One is Three.