Coffee Shop Life

Sometimes I crave that coffee shop life
I used to lead, the erratic schedule,
the strangers and friends coming and going,
the smell of new books and old, drowned beans,
the folk singers, chess players, immigrants,
gossip gatherers and solo studiers,
the painters, sculptors, writers, 
anxious students and relaxed retirees.
I used to make a game of guessing 
what each one would order--large dark roast
or half-caf soy latté with a shot of vanilla,
red wine or white--and I got pretty good
at knowing the types. I’d slip my favorites 
a little extra chocolate in their mochas or
put some extra flair into their foam.
Now I'm on the other side of the counter, 
occasionally, like a stranger who never inhaled
cocoa powder or finely ground espresso beans,
who never shot two-hundred-degree water
straight onto her stomach and kept on
monitoring for a perfect crema while laughing
at a lonely man’s jokes. I make money now, 
instead of happiness, and listen to copy machines
instead of coffee machines, my life more stable, 
my health insured and my family supported. 
I never drank coffee when I made it for others; 
now I pay someone else to make my 
medium roast happiness, black.

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