The little head bobs by about table height,
circles back and makes to crawl up on the bench
on the opposite side of the booth as she asks,
"Can I sit with you?"
In that question I am immediately smitten.
Smitten by her head of tight springy curls, her cafe au lait skin.
Smitten by her innocence of stranger danger.
Smitten by her recognition perhaps that I am alone and need company.
Smitten by the sweetness that pours out of her eyes like honey.
Dad retrieves her, apologizes and suggests the next booth.
She bounces up on the bench and turns to talk
while mom and dad are ordering food.
I say, "Hey look. We are neighbors."
She laughs and there is no better food
being served up here than that sound
bouncing around the industrial space.
I ask what she's having for breakfast
and am told "a cindamon roll"
and I wish those were on the menu.
Cindamon rolls with a side of laughter.
There's a little familiar glitch in my heart rhythm
I recognize, a yearning.
It's been a while since I wanted that,
But I chose not and was not chosen
not this time, not this life.
Maybe it's reading Laurie's poems
roughed off the surface of that shell.
Maybe it's understanding the ways that work with mom
would work with kids and
knowing I could have done it.
And on a rainy grey August Sunday
wondering why I ever chose not to.