At the midday tide, the boats are tied and secure,
survivors of another night gathering fish.
The small village has gone quiet,
save for a few tourists.
You are one of those tourists,
happier off the beaten path and familiar photo ops,
content to sit at the tiny coffee house for hours
and simply watch the ebb and flow of the town,
to hear strange language all around you,
to sit still enough, long enough
that you fit in, and disappear in the landscape.
You once wanted to be famous,
before you were broken, shard by shard, eroded
until only the shining shell, that brittle shell
was left, and easy target, easily shattered.
Easily shattered and painstakingly put back together.
Forget fame. Forget the stars, you are content now
just to be alive, a man with roots who travels,
more content to listen than talk, finally aware
other people’s stories matter more than your own,
a container for others’ pain and sadness and salacious tales.
You have become the keeper of secrets,
sipping coffee here at the edge of the Northern Sea,
happiest when alone with the woman you love,
sipping coffee and holding her hand across the table,
watching, always watching, for the next story.
About this poem
The picture was taken in the Netherlands. I spent a day there once, doing just what the poem says, sitting at a small cafe, sipping some amazing cappuccino and watching the flow of the village all day long. Days like that are the best.
I picked the title simply because that word, salacious, has a “made you look” quality, that is in contrast to the simplicity of the moment in the poem. I like that kind of wordplay.