Silver-Bearded Man in the Waiting Room at the Dental Clinic

I’ve never seen him before
but I’d like to look at him
across a breakfast table
while sunshine orangens
a pitcher of juice, a light wind
adds a soundtrack of patio
wind chimes, the young day
at our feet like a sheltie
anticipating an open gate.
None of this is going to happen,
of course. I will not discover

what games the hayloft or fire hydrant
witnessed in his boyhood summers,
nor in what township he wed a former
sweetheart (her name Lisa? Gretchen?
Claire?), and if he hiked the Apostle Islands
on his honeymoon. I will not learn
his eldest daughter’s nickname
for him, nor the story of how
he earned it, where he found his cat
if he has one, what route he biked
after taking the Merrimac Ferry,
or in what country he last drank
a glass of wine. So, let me savor

the next twenty-seven seconds
seated side-by-side in upholstered
armchairs as Scarborough Fair
through ceiling speakers drifts down,
and we wait—together, I pretend—
to get called back for root canals.

~Shoshauna Shy