I sit here
Where for years I have sat daily
Since moving back to Berkeley
From Southern California in 1985.
I always came to this café,
then run by artists and anarchists,
To read The New York Times.
On the front page of today’s Times
Is an article about Donald Trump,
Who has “finally acknowledged that President Obama was born in the United States.”
I sit here
Thinking about Cold War America,
That I first saw when, at age 17, I visited Washington D.C. in the summer of 1951.
Another article I read in today’s Times is about “Brexit”
Which triggers memories of England
(where I was born in 1933)
And a photograph of “Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany”
— talking to reporters at a European Union summit meeting —
Stirs up memories about
The time of my first travels through Europe
After I returned to England from the U.S.
I sit here,
Reading the Times,
Musing on all the changing history I have lived through
Over the decades.
I sit here wondering about how ordinary Americans
Live in this world of ours?
Will today’s Times address this?
It is only after turning page after page of the newspaper
That I find a photograph of Alison Phillip
— an African American woman suffering from multiple sclerosis —
accompanied by Nikita Stewart’s article about her, entitled
“As Shelter Residents Surge, Housing for Disabled Comes Up Short.”
Stewart begins her article by telling us that“Alison Phillip’s feet dragged beneath her
as she used forearm crutches
to make her way down a ramp,
leaving the Brooklyn homeless shelter
where she and her 2-year old
With exhausted eyes,
I continue to turn the newspaper’s pages
Until I reach the final page.
Here I read an article about
“A Russian-Iranian Axis” that announces that
“The partial cease-fire in Syria’s civil war
is welcome news. But
it must not be allowed
to obscure a dangerous new item”
— with a subtitle explaining that
“A military partnership forged in Syria
Could long outlast the war.”
I close the newspaper and sit staring despondently out of the window of the café.
Moira Roth is an art historian, writer and playwright with a Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley. Since 1985 she has taught at Mills College. She has published extensively including Difference/Indifference: Musings on Postmodernism, Marcel Duchamp and John Cage. Currently she is at work on her second volume, Traveling Companions/ Fractured Worlds. This poem is #9 from her ongoing News from the Café series.