At the bookstore café, they’ve installed a
decorative nipple-high wall; a wall
of mahogany and stained oak,
the entire width of the span
of the storefront windows.
He wants to like it, wants to appreciate
the warmth and the reddish brownness of it,
wants to luxuriate in the cozy nookness it adds,
but he’s an inveterate people-watcher
and the wall, after all, is a wall
and does what walls must do:
separate and obfuscate.
Most of the patrons seem to like it well enough,
but he notes how quickly they gravitate
toward the high café tables
closest to the almost-walled-off windows,
their long-legged, high-backed chairs
affording them a view over the top,
onto Main Street.
He discusses the pros and cons
with the barista: she rhapsodizes
about energy efficiency,
customer privacy and comfort,
overall esthetics. He understands all that;
recognizes and accepts
the wall’s practical utility
but still…a wall is a wall is a wall.