At the Café


by Shirani Rajapakse

I didn’t see it coming. My cup
was full and overflowing. You picked at
your food staring over my head

at the big screen in the corner playing
old movies to an empty café.
Mesmerized you watched scenes unfold

somewhere in the middle
of a conversation with no care for the person
in front of you. “It’s not you, it’s

me,” you said later, when it was all over.
It was easier over the phone. No
emotions; tears to wipe,

no scenes from a movie best left out. Just words,
impersonal, droned down the wire.
Another dimension.

The coffee in my cup tasted bad,
end of a relationship before it
went sour like old milk way past its time.

Rust coffee, you joked one day
about the fungus infecting the
plantations far away. “You will not have

your coffee next year,” but
your smile didn’t reach your eyes. It hovered
at the corners of your lips and disappeared

embarrassed at being seen
in public. And that was it. You ran out faster
than the coffee. Sitting by my side on the drive

back home we spoke in silence.
The wind blew our words to the next town
where you will go to play the part all over again.


About the Author:

Shirani Rajapakse is a Sri Lankan poet and author. She is the winner of the Cha “Betrayal” Poetry Contest 2013. Her collection of short stories, Breaking News (Vijitha Yapa 2011) was shortlisted for the Gratiaen Award. Shirani’s work appears, or is forthcoming in, Dove Tales, Buddhist Poetry Review, About Place Journal, Skylight 47, The Smoking Poet, New Verse News, The Occupy Poetry Project and anthologies Poems for Freedom, Voices Israel Poetry Anthology 2012, Song of Sahel, Occupy Wall Street Poetry Anthology, World Healing World Peace and Every Child Is Entitled to Innocence. She blogs rather infrequently here.