This evening you sit at a table way up front
unlike previous days, when your regular table
is the one at the back, next to the railing,
from where the soft breeze and violent rains
sweep in at you, in equal measure.
You like that table, hidden away from the counter
and the entrance, so you usually sit there unnoticed, you
and your coffee, allowing the calm in the air
to percolate in, even when the voices rage
all around the cafe, and inside you.
But today that table is covered in darkness;
you are late, the man at the counter tells you,
we have started closing an hour early. There
is no coffee left but you can have tea, he says.
And the counters are all empty, all the food gone.
It’s only business, they will soon shut down,
you’ve heard. The flow is ending, you can feel it;
when there’s no flow, stay still. Assume you’re dead,
Mr. Honda* had said. So you sit with your tea,
perhaps for the last time, and wait for the darkness
as they slowly turn out the lights.
(*From “The Wind-up Bird Chronicle” by Haruki Murakami)