After perusing the pastry case
and deciding on nothing,
before I ordered my coffee
it was sitting there, on the counter
a single, short latte
served in a hand-painted cup
exactly the way I like it
made by a young woman
whom I’d barely noticed on previous visits
whose name I didn’t know.
In response to my look of disbelief
she responded simply,
“I know what you drink”
and she did.
I smiled and asked her name
as I thanked her.
I’d been seen without even knowing it.
Earlier in the morning
I’d walked with a friend who was troubled,
the sunshine and air
birdsong and motion
gave her no comfort, no sense of ease.
So I listened and walked,
walked and listened, and finally shared
a story of my private struggle
to which she responded
“You sound just like me”
then she shared with me
an unshared story
and I watched her shoulders drop
and felt her breath expand
as she began to release her burden
of many years
as she felt seen, no longer alone.
As I drank my perfect coffee
I read the local news
of a young man who decided to forego
the flash of a single night
of dinner and dancing
the end of high school,
to throw a party for homeless women:
the forgotten, ignored, and invisible.
I imagined the women dressing
in donated evening clothes
and selecting their dinners
from the menu prepared by student cooks
and sitting at tables covered with cloths.
And I thought of the gifts he would give them
not only of dresses and dinner and fun,
but of choices and respect
and most of all, of being seen.