Elsie’s Café in Aurelia Iowa

If it isn’t a special place there’s no special place.
Those boys, those boys come in and they talk.
There’s doughnuts and rolls all laid out on the counter
and coffee, those glass pots of coffee on the warmer
And lines of white glass cups.
   

What makes this poem so great is its simplicity and its descriptiveness. Leah Niemchick, age 20

And when those boys come in
their caps are heroic with words
Like JOHN DEERE, DEKALB CORN,
FUNK’S G HYBRIDS, NORTHRUP KING
and their caps are silent

I love the irony here. The caps proclaim something heroic, which one would expect to be loud, but they remain silent. Samantha Mikita, age 19
"heroic with words" is a very fresh line. This is followed closely by "their caps are silent" again, fresh and intriguing. Colin Butgereit, age 20

as they talk and take the rolls
and coffee at their ease
at the tables in the back

My favorite part of this poem starts with Elsie. Her glasses are green like the jar full of dollar bills. She sits at the counter and observes, yet never participates. I feel like everyone has a part of Elsie in them, the quiet part that is content to see. The heroic caps of the men at the shop are interchangeable to Elsie, like dolls in a doll house. She watches them come and go yet has no interaction with them. Elsie is stuck watching life but not living it. Rachel McGuinness, age 18

   
Meanwhile, Elsie looks; she looks
through her green prescription
glasses, as she sits and listens
to the boys; and there’s a tray,
big, round, glass, full
of dollar bills and piles of change
where the customers can pay
all by themselves before they leave
and not make Elsie move. The door
opens again and again.
  
Those boys. How they do come in.

Those boys. How they do come in." As if, Elsie sits for the sole reason of watching the boys come through the doors. Colin Butgereit, age 20


Elsie trusts people to pay in the jar before they leave; it seems like a blind trust because if someone didn't pay, what would Elsie do? She doesn't seem to be one to jump out of her seat and chase someone down the block for money. She seems content to be naive and trusting. Rachel McGuinness, age 18
I guess, I would like to say that there is a place like Elsie's cafe in our world today. Maybe it is high hopes but, there has to be. The poem alludes to a small town with working men and women. Where everyone knows everyone, and a certain amount of trust is channeled through the community. If someone was new to town, and they came across the big round glass at Elsie's, it seems that they would know what to do. I could see the younger generation taking advantage of the situation here and there. Colin Butgereit, age 20

Through the 3rd Eye was supported in its inception by the Grand Rapids Humanities Council and is currently made possible by continued volunteer effort and private support. Copyright 2013.