The Encounter

(After Hal Sorowitz)


He won’t look at her
because if he does
she may smile back
& flash her pearly teeth
& trap him into saying
“Care for a cup of tea?”
& she may say “Yes,”
& he’ll have
to tell her funny stories
to make her laugh
& pass the afternoon
like it were a summery one,
& he has to ask her again
for the lovely chance
at the bar
until they think
they can’t do without
each other,
but he knows
this will lead
to that sad day
when she’ll fail to come
at the appointed hour,
leaving a message
she’s busy at the office,
& he’ll start to pine
for her presence,
but she’ll be always unavailable
because she’s got cold feet
at the prospect
of sitting across the table
with an old man?
& he’ll heave his usual sigh
of unbearable grief
& he’ll feel
like slashing his wrists
to prove he’s such
a romantic fool
& perhaps make her
share a guilt
for abandoning him
who’s a paragon, ahem,
of respectability…
But nothing surely
will happen…
O How relieved is he
that he doesn’t have
to steal a glance at her
& she at him –
& they’ll leave
the shop
like strangers
they’ve always been.
Outside the café,
a boy pedlar
will shove up his face
a stem of rose
& he’ll be reminded
of that familiar woman
but she won’t be bothered
by an old man’s
she’ll deem silly
& laughable
like Charlie Chaplin.


She has an inkling
he’s trying to catch her eyes
& if she so much as
look in his direction,
she’ll have to acknowledge
the gesture
with a polite twitch
of her cheeks
she usually does
to camouflage an irritation
because in this café
she’s observant of protocol
among the small clientele
at 4 o’clock
when tables may be shared
but she prefers
to be left alone
to unwind from the tedious
office job,
& the guy seems however
persistent in his silent ways.
& when she responds expectedly
like any ambassador
of good will
with no malice toward
old gentlemen,
he’ll probably open
the door for her
as she makes her exit
to return the next day
like clockwork
& see him again
at the corner
poring over his crossword,
& they shall leave
again almost
at the same time
when evening prepares
to set in,
& she’ll finally get
scared of him
for the wordless familiarity
between them
& so she’ll steer clear
of the café
for a day, a week,
a month
until she’ll forget
about him
who’ll shock her
when she turns
the news page
that shows him
being bundled off
to an ambulance
because he’s allegedly
when he crossed the street
with a rose in his hand…
O How relieved is she
that she has finally
gotten rid of him
who’ll probably
tell her
unbearable stories
he’ll find funny himself
like any pathetic
stand-up comic,

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7 Responses to The Encounter

  1. isabel says:

    haha, nakakatuwa naman… like the poem we read in class… :) but very probable to happen

  2. Rica says:

    Yep, reminds me of the poem ‘I finally managed to speak to her’ that we read in class. HAHA. By the way sir, thanks for the interesting summer. :)

  3. Rica, thanks for the encounter. Keep in touch. Will see you after you become a lawyer na. But anytime is good enough.

  4. Rica says:

    Sir, hindi po ako magiging lawyer. :) HAHA. :)

  5. Ah. Ikaw pala iyung taga-BA. Lalong mahusay, makakapag-retire na ako at may mauutangan. Haha. Salamat. Keep in touch.

  6. Paki-email nga ng cellphone number mo at nang makapag-Choco Kiss minsan. Ingat.

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