An italian café. Me and old men old men and me having coffee. Latino music. Donne sur. Not la mer. Not even the river. A charity shop on the other side of the road. La strada. British flags in the windows. The café owner seems fragile. He is a bit younger than
the men coming in the café having coffee. Reading their papers. But not a lot.
He seems Italian. Not heard him talking Italian. Not English for sure. Shy.
Father of a small child. Perhaps. But might be friends only. Exchanged kisses with the child’s mother and talked Spanish with a slight accent. But then she paid her meal. The coffee tastes Italian. An open window. Smoking is not allowed. Only outside. A chocolate cake is waiting to be cut into pieces. People take their children over the road. La strada. El sol. Gone. This summer has never been. French music with a bit of Portugese. A man is balancing a pile of books over the road and disappears in the charity shop.

Me and old men, old men and me in my Italian café having coffee. Me and my old men having my coffee. No I better stay in my corner at the window. Turning my back to them. Plugging in my thoughts. ..

Everything is small. Even the name of the café. The shop owner may have wanted  to make it grow when he opened the café. What?

I rather see the shop owner in a French film. Italian perhaps. He has a bit of Picasso. But not enough to destroy such a lot of women.

It’s nice to have a café near-by, the grandparents say to each other. Or is it mother and son. Nice for the daughter in law which has a different colour and a son of a bit lighter colour. All looking at the colourful painting on the wall showing a garden with playing children in it. Laughing. Eating (sharing) the chocolate cake.

Almost all old men have left by now. Only one behind me still here. Reading his papers. Elderly couples instead. Middle aged friends. Not a single table left. Only two chairs. Who will want to share his/her table with a stranger. I rather look out of the window. Which donne sur la strada. Watch people crossing the road. Giving a quick look into the charity shop. The shop owner could need help at this time of day. Would he want me to help him. It is just a thought of mine. I am drinking my Morrocan mint tea. I rather take the empty shop next door. Having my own café. Having my own old men drinking my coffee in my

Our countries are neighbours anyway. No way. I rather look out of the window qui gives sight (view) sur la rue. With its Zebrastreifen. The sun is coming and going like the cars. Disappearing around the corner.

The shop owner looks as if he hasn’t slept enough and smoked too much. Once. Some time ago. He does not seem to smoke any more. He does not look like somebody who want to own a lot. Not even a packet of cigarettes. He seems like someone always having a few coins in his pockets to give to the one not owning anything.

The daughter in law and her son the grandmother and her son..

He puts the tables outside. This summer comes and goes quickly.

Two days later. I do know most. I didn’t even ask. I was told. I was shown. I wish I didn’t know. I wish I didn’t see. Where. When. How it all happened.

The old men are still reading their papers. Not talking to me. When I enter the place take my hat off and plug my thoughts in. Showing my back to them. Looking out of the window. I know what the Italian name means in English. Everything starts to make sense. Sadly? I can still make my assumptions. I am free to write the plac I come to write. And after all it’s a business. Not made to make me survive. The Hungarian waiters smiles at me. I don’t know a single word in his language. I even get to know his wife. Staatenlos (a word that does not exist?) for years. Not complaining about her job at a student’s place that does
not approuve her holiday after years of working there day after day.

A young couple is bringing (taking?) bags into the shop. They might split up and move into different houses. I will have a look at the lamp they carry. They leave the shop taking the lamp with them. It is not supposed to enlighten my life. They are crossing the Zebrastreifen. Faces looking freed. Hair blowing in the wind.

Disappearing around the corner into their ever and ever so happy life.

Nobody seems to be able to pass the shop without looking. Much less seem to have time to sit down. Have a coffee tasting Italian.

A very tall man with a very small push-chair. Stroller an American woman told me and how she made an effort to get away from her words to get closer to the people here.

Me and one old (fat I am tempted to write, why not I think it anyway) man in
his tiny corner making business calls. Oh no. People are always… my assumptions here.

Some come for the Italian. Some because the Italian is not here at the moment. Some come here every day. Me and an old woman in her electrical ….she parks outside. Drinking coffee her husband would not have tasted (had) once in life. I haven’t seen her for a while.

The music makes me think of the Italian that is off to his country. Which he might
have left for a very long time. I do not ask. I do not ask.

Elke Papp


About Genevieve Guetemme

art & research
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