It was when the sun shone directly in her eyes
That she pulled back from the world of imagination
And back into the world of the café with its hard-backed chairs.
It was when she tuned in to this world, she realised that
The boy with the Quiksilver hat, carefully
Arranged to look like it had been thrown on
Carelessly, thought she had been looking at him.
She hadn’t – she had merely been looking in his vague direction –
Through him, in the way you stare through a pane of glass,
To admire the view – that is, without the slightest regard for
The glass at all.
I hate these moments, she thought
And in an attempt to dislodge the small pebbles of
Awkwardness out of her throat,
she coughed gently, but still they stuck.
In that moment
She was tripped by her own self-consciousness
And in considering her options found herself staring at him - really
At him this time. For a moment she imagined how it would be
To feel their skin brush and whether there would be an electric
Buzz (like that of ardent lovers) or whether it would
Be the indifferent touch of two strangers nudging
As they pass on the road to Somewhere, Anywhere, Nowhere.
(A route she knew too well.)
She quickly discarded the thought and tried to
Regain her composure – flustered over the strangeness of
Her own thinking. She considered
Turning up the corners of her mouth into a
Tight smile – a thin red line to
At least register his existence, but didn’t find the energy
And so let her mouth slacken.
She felt overcome by a mixture ennui, frustration, anxiety and
Fatigue (an exact definition for this state eluded her),
When he sloped up to her, raising his eyes in what could have been
A curt acknowledgement or maybe a show of
Surly arrogance, she sighed loudly,
Hoping such a strangled expression would communicate her
Annoyance. It’s all too much, she said, flinching
As a pole of light crashed through her eyelashes,
Everyone wants a piece of me, she said, moving to meet
His eye directly. She didn’t feel a seismic shift, not even a vague wobble.
(An awareness though of the way his form obstructed the light’s path.)
There’s a humanitarian crisis threatening in Libya, he said.
We can all do our bit to help in God’s work.
I’m just trying to make it through the day, she answered and
Looking past him, directly into the light’s poison tipped shaft,
Focused on the voice inside her head,
Te tiro atu to kanohi ki tairawhiti ana tera whiti te ra
kite ataata ka hinga ki muri kia koe
(Look into the light and the shadows fall behind you.)