Hall of Fame of the Beautiful Mundane

Gabriella Theisen

Hungarian Pastry Shop Café, Upper West Side, New York, NY

“I am tired of being a man,” said the old man sitting outside in a little chair.
“I am tired of the numb wants. I want to look at you and know that you love me.
I want the light to open up the heavens.”
The man caught me hovering on the corner as he rose.
Muttered something inaudible, I blushed, strode into the café.
A waiter came, cleared the table.
The café was crowded, all around were people like thoughts drifting
in and out of focus. I waited patiently, ordered coffee.
“I want only release from the root. I do not want to be dreamless
like a vacated sky. And the stuff that holds together cardboard houses.”
Twine and glue and glass frame the broken bridge of his freckled nose.
“Hanging from doorways of houses I hate smoking cigarettes burning like petrol.”
He stands to leave— turns like a dancer and flips the table, lifts three chairs, places one atop the table, then slides the others to the ground in some state of mercy, dissuaded order into elegant chaos.
Crying out in a strange prayer.
Before opening my mouth to utter something,
Raising an eyebrow, he shushes me.
Inside, someone sweeps up trash with a broom.
He is gone.


Gabriella Theisen holds a BA from Columbia University and The Jewish Theological Seminary.