When I walk into the cafe,
She greets me with a smile.
It is more of a confession,
Bold and not self-conscious—
Despite her braces and our age difference.
She moves quickly, a fox darting
Through the store, and before
I could object, she is rearranging
Furniture to accommodate me.
Normally, she is found behind the counter
Preparing smoothies, cleaning the blender,
Or cashiering. I observe from behind
My books, at her graceful fingers as they
Drop fruit and greens into the food processor.
She cannot see over its top, but she has good aim.
She is apt at each task, quick to learn.
Ready to instruct. She teaches the younger boy
How to write up receipts, dispense change.
Her voice is too immature to hold authority,
But she doesn’t need it. She has kindness.
When she spies me watching her work, she smiles.
A. J. Hayes
Give a poet a pen