she twists her hair until it binds her hand
in the scuffed corner of some espresso dive
not quite alive but still smouldering,
ember poised over a bland paperback
shades in place despite the hour.
panhandlers do their rounds at the outer tables
partly warded off by the approach of staff
she moves her bag with her feet without changing her stare
her brown strands stay wound like a rope
i glance over my copy of the stranger
shifting my chair with unease
her pale knees closed as if asleep
the breeze from the fan
shuffles the smoke from her face
the place where interest should be
is erased from memory
i circle the word 'deceased' to remind me
like the brown foam on the sides of my bowl
the past is a hole
it hungers and prowls like the haze of dead cigarettes
wiping yellow residue on walls and over eyes
before it lies at your feet and growls when you move.
she watches it linger with the last of her storyline.
a late bus groans by with a howl of air
and the waiter begins his wipedown
the town barely slows in the dark
the glow of coffee hues the skyline
as mercury halos spotlight sooty figures
passing absently beyond the glass
i find no excuse to remain
but she feigns a dream state
insect eyes fixed on the horizon
a model's pose awaiting immortality.