A Serendipitous Encounter

A Serendipitous Encounter

Traveling abroad after a hectic day of meetings, I needed a break.
Seeing a crowded cafe, I entered.
Having ordered a vanilla latte, I waited.
Looking around, my eyes were drawn to a woman by the window looking outside.
Sitting quietly and serenely, her presence was somehow comforting to me.
Startling me, her head suddenly snapped towards me, as if she sensed I was looking at her.
Staring at me with a puzzled look on her face, her eyes flashed curiosity.
Having received my latte from the barista, I moved outside and sat.
Stealing a furtive glance at the woman, I was surprised to see her bemused eyes still studying me.
Staring at her, daring her to look away, she did not.  I thought to myself, “Strange…unexpected…bold.”
Turning my eyes back to watching the denizens of this fair city hustling to and fro, I sipped my latte.
Casually glancing at the woman by the window again, I found her eyes regarding me still.
Her lips slowly spreading into a broad but close-lipped smile, she seemed to have decided something. Rising from her table with coffee cup and saucer in hand, she gracefully exited the cafe.
Walking between the sun and me, she stopped beside my table.
Shining brightly in my eyes, the sun behind her cast her face in shadow.
Hovering there for a long moment, she smiled and said in a low voice, “Hello, Teacher Lee.”
Nonplussed, incredulous, I strained to see her shadowed face more clearly.
Suddenly discerning something unusual about her coffee cup saucer, my eyes locked onto a ring of multi-colored sugar cubes reposing lazily around her cup.
Laughing in amazement, I uttered a single word.
“Matta.”


This poem makes use of introductory participial phrases in every sentence.  In this structure, the participle (-ing word) acts as an adjective and must describe the subject of the main clause.

8 comments

    1. The difference is this, Ivan. Present participles generally indicate concurrent/simultaneous actions.
      If one action HAS just been completed, then we must describe that recently completed action as “HAVING done this” or “HAVING just done this”, ….

      Explaining it to the class, he could see understanding start to bloom.
      (concurrent; the explaining and the seeing are happening at the same time)

      WHILE explaining it to the class, he could see … (equivalent)

      HAVING explained it to the class, there were no further questions.
      (the explaining completed first; after that was done, there were no questions forthcoming)

      AFTER having explained it to the class, there were no … (equivalent)

      —–
      Since “have” can mean “possess”, its participle can be used for concurrent action as well in this way:

      HAVING lots of money, he offered to treat all his friends to lunch.

      BEING cornered and HAVING no escape route, he slowly turned to face his enemy.

  1. Reading your poem, I felt happy and I wanted to read it again.
    Wanting to add a comment, I couldn’t find the suitable words to describe my feelings.
    By the way, Am I that curious?
    Bravo for your poem, Teacher πŸ™‚
    Merci~

    1. I attributed your curiosity to uncertainty. You weren’t sure it was me initially, so you had to “study” me awhile to decide if your “eyes were playing tricks on you”. I didn’t mention what city we were in. Even if I were in your city, our meeting would be unlikely unless we planned it. If we were both in Paris, our meeting would have been even more unlikely. That’s all.

      If you meant to ask me if you were that “mysterious”, the answer is yes. You are reticent and keep your private thoughts to yourself. This adds to your “mystery” or mystique.

      Correct usage of introductory participial phrases by the way. πŸ™‚

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