Gentle touch of elsewhere

She stands at the counter selfconsciously
me… skinny,
skinny bootlegs, denim jacket, black
shirt, sunnies…
orders a cappucino to take away.
Watching from the table I know
she’s been in the record shop (being me,
she’s old enough to call it that)
and, yes,
she takes a new CD out of her bag and
studies it, track list, four band members,
can’t see who they are from here
I think of my chat-up line:
so what’s your favourite band?
but she gets her styrofoam capp and goes
leaving me still and still

And there’s a guy
with the hair and the eyes
but he’s someone else’s: a conservatively beiged little
woman, and I’m someone else’s too
but maybe we could be friends, if, you know,
our paths could cross.
She gets him water and I…
Well it’s not that I hide behind my book,
it’s that you don’t. You don’t
chat up strangers in this
semisuburban lunchvenue with
seniors and young mums luxuriating in its
gentle touch of elsewhere.

You start a club. That’s what you do.
You put up a notice and you attract people who are
so like yourself that they bore you, and people who
think they are you but
you know different

A guy emails me, says my poem reminds him of
Camus: the outsider/stranger/foreigner. Yeah.
A guy in Ulster emails me that
and where am I?