The Rilke Spotting

People chatting at a coffeeshop.

Posted on February 2, 2024 by Jenn Zatopek

The Rilke Spotting

I saw Rainer Maria Rilke at Starbucks last week,
sitting inside the cafe off University Drive,
absent mindfully stroking his beard.
I didn’t go up to him because I wanted
to look at the man whose writing
changed my view on things.
You’re curious perhaps what he ordered—
an Earl Grey latte with oat milk, two sugars.
But maybe you’re also curious why he’d choose
a Starbucks near an ordinary college campus
in the middle of an unseasonably cold winter’s day.

Because real life, he would say if I asked him,
begins right where you are:
the Starbucks cafe making drinks,
the local library doing homework,
the food pantries feeding the hungry,
the homeless shelters caring for the unwanted,
the city water gardens admiring ingenuity,
the warm beds we convalesce in,
the tea shop near the freeway that crisscrosses the sky.

These are the places God lives, he would say,
his eyes tender in their seriousness,
their urgency for you to awaken
to wonder living, flowing at your feet. 

Image: Photo by Nick Hillier on Unsplash

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