5am on Mondays I wake
to give 5.5 hours to the world.
I tamp espresso grounds,
percolate drip coffee,
giggle with other baristas,
burn myself on every hot surface.
Regulars arrive and leave.
First names attach themselves to faces.
Empty hands are outfitted in cups.
I’m still learning their particulars
but I can nail a cappuccino and
give smiles more nourishing than food.
The minutes are undependable.
Some wander by comfortably.
Others dash through in messy madness,
cavorting down long lines,
sprinkling brown beans on the tiles,
finger painting with milk on stainless steel.
I do this work for my lover
to help pay bills.
I do this work for myself
to form lighthearted connections.
I do this work for my village
to create warmth in a communal kitchen.
Before the sun rises I ready a room for eat and drink.
I offer kindness knit around service.
Those who share my blood
are across state lines,
hours out of arms reach.
For one day a week,
in my own orphaned mind,
I am family to many.