Learning to linger
By Liliana Greyf
That moment when you have to go but want to stay—so you decide you really don’t have to go at all.
When the waiter asks, eyebrows raised, if you’d like the check say no. It’s true, you’ve eaten so many pastries and the bit below your bellybutton has begun to droop but it’s in a girl-like sort of way, you think, so today you deserve a treat. You deserve to buy yourself a bunch of yellow roses, like the ones Tanya bought for your birthday because she couldn’t remember the English word for sunflowers. But because the flower shop is far, and because it is warm here, say no and order a coffee with cinnamon and milk. Or cinnamon milk with no coffee. Back home they don’t pour foam into swans or hearts, and the mugs certainly aren’t as clean. Plus the barista’s face is getting familiar enough that it’s become appropriate for you to think about what your theoretical kids would look like. Or maybe a dachshund will lumber in with a beautiful person on its leash and who could miss that? Perhaps you should move into this café, because there is enough room on this bench for you to stretch your legs. You can always undo the top button of your jeans and breathe.
Girls Write Now On the Other Side of Everything: The 2023 Anthology
Do you know what it’s like to communicate with your family across a salty ocean’s divide? Do you want the sun and moon to enter your home with stories written in embers? Do you seek voices that will punctuate the darkness? Welcome to the other side of everything. It’s the other side of silence, the other side of childhood, the other side of hate, the other side of indifference, it’s the other side of sides, where the binary breaks down. It’s a new paradigm, a destination, a different perspective, a mindset, a state of openness, the space between the endless folds in your forehead, hopes for tomorrow, and reflections on the past. This anthology of diverse voices is an everything bagel of literary genres and love songs, secrets whispered in the dark of night, conversations held with ancestors under the sea.
This piece was written, unsurprisingly, in a coffee shop. I lingered longer than I would normally have to write this poem, which is about the lingering itself.
Liliana Greyf is a native New Yorker. Her favorite things include small plants, short stories, mint tea and the bagel store across the street from her house. She is passionate about the use of the word "girl."
Speaking on Body Liberation with Chrissy Kingby Kathryn Destin