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Café at Noon: Poem #3

Letting the Mind Travel

POEM 3:2020

By Lu Sobredo

Winter 2019 has not been kind to my well-being. Although the tumor turned out to be benign, the skull is still healing from the brain surgery in March 2019. Spurts of raw throbbing pain visit to remind me, it hasn’t yet been a year since that significant event.  Pain and limited mobility from a six-year old diagnosis of Severe  Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) have surfaced frequently. Thoughts of real travel is the farthest thing from my plans. 

Spain in winter 2018 seems like a distant memory, but warms the inside sufficiently to lift my spirits. The Coronavirus scare must be taken seriously by one who is afflicted by a chronic autoimmune disease, medications for which suppress the  immune system. When all the forces re-align in the universe, next travel must include another visit to Spain, Italy and Switzerland in Europe; a first time visit to Taiwan and South Korea in Asia. 

For now, I am going with the flow where my mind takes me, since my legs can’t take me too far. The mind seems fixated on verses, not the typical narrative I write for my Travel Blog. So, bear with me as I share where my mind wants to travel, the land of poetry. This is the third of what might become a Collection of Poems for 2020.

Photo ©James Sobredo
The featured photo is not of the Cafe in the poem, but a lively representation in my head of Auguste Renoir's painting: Luncheon of the Boating Party. THANKS to my husband James Sobredo for this black and white photo of Friends at a Birthday Party (gathering for Blake Bomben). 
Friends at a Birthday Party, ©James Sobredo 2019


The discordant mixture of sounds, 
not the signature aroma in the Café,
tickles my curiosity.

Wondering what stories unfold 
from table to table 
shared by young men in groups of two and four.
Some chatting, others chattering in animated tones 
with arms flailing excitedly.
A promising scene of young people 
engaged, not with cellular phones, 
but with each other.

Don’t applaud too soon. Many others, 
young and old are in intimate embrace 
of their electronic companions.
I am no exception. 
Nor is a young woman at table next to mine,
all alone with her laptop, staring into space.
She’s quietly in thought, 
except for a coy giggle.  

Other women at tables are smiling, 
nodding, sipping their drinks,
chatting and shaking hands with folks walking by.
Not quite the scene
From Renoir’s Luncheon of the Boating Party,
But amusing enough.

The eyes don’t deceive much.
A life-size doll sits on a stool,
Dressed in a blue sweater 
and intricately patterned skirt. 
She’s not alone, this three-dimensional Anime character.
A young man in his late teens 
carried her out in his arms, turning heads,
drawing stunned faces from onlookers. 
Life-size dolls rumored
as preferred companion in far-away continents.
One resides in my hometown. 

One young man in his twenties notices 
another with shoulder-length hair 
wearing a ninja-like gear. 
A friend perhaps. Both seem
compelled to share a hug.
Genuine bromance at play.

Outside at the Café’s patio, an elderly man 
with grey hair 
sits in the cold with arms folded. 
A huge umbrella shields him 
from February’s sun. 
Subtly, he bops his head rhythmically, 
oblivious of his surroundings, 
listening intently 
to dance tunes through those earbuds, 
one would presume.
I, on the other hand, sit feeling content inside
away from winter’s sun. 

Busily baristas take care of customers, methodically, 
one at a time. A middle-aged man stares quizzically
at the menu on the wall,
Hesitating at first, then deciding 
on some drink infused with espresso.
Or is it espresso infused milk 
with a pretentious name.

Conversations grow louder as time passes.
Interactions seem free of visible conflict. 
More laughter. Guttural sounds. 
Low-pitched, high-pitched
In all kinds of cadence.
Café-goers entranced in their own reality. 

I am not one to succumb to boredom.
There’s so much of the world to take in.
Even at a neighborhood Café when alone.
The disharmonious chatter 
fueled by brewed coffee and burnt caramel 
captivates the senses. 
People-watching doesn’t have to be intrusive,
When one puts her mind to it.

Suddenly I realize 
I must be the only one 
past child-bearing age in this crowd. 
I did give birth decades before. 
This must be the state of getting old. 
One notices the oddest distinction, 
and observes life as it unfolds. 
No harsh judgment, 
no fear, 
no regret and 
no intended consequence 
while being entertained 
by strangers 
in a Café at noon.

Poem ©Lu Sobredo 2020
Photo ©James Sobredo 2019

About the Author 
Lu Sobredo is writer/publisher at Lu Travels Abroad, a blog dedicated to folks whose limitations do not hamper them from traveling. A year into early retirement her world collapsed from the diagnosis of Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA). Her total life changed, but she did not let RA define her. With love from family, friends and an awesome doctor, she regained some functionality--her new normal. She will have RA all her life. And she now writes about life and travel with RA. During the pandemic of 2020, she stays put and writes poetry and a first novel, a travel of sorts but in the heart and mind.


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