Tea Songs in the Kavarna
I am no composer or soprano.
I write my poetry; you hear me
in translation. At our oratorio’s crescendo,
we have sung and sung and our throats are parched
as gray paper up in smoke.
And all I want is tea,
and all you have to offer me is coffee.
Singing for tea in the coffee house,
kavárna in Czech where káva is coffee and tea is čaj, like chai
and I am infused, inviting contemplation
and you are ground and steamed, like a French press
or Italian espresso — Remember the counter in Rome, Piazza Sant’Eustachio?
The way those men rush, on foot in their fine leather shoes,
hands a blur in the lines of a morning adagio.
Some days we switch positions—I crave coffee;
you desire Earl Grey or mint or, when weary, chamomile
but oh, how we both love a sprinkling of sugar,
a swirl-stir of cream.
The last time you served me anything to drink,
you handed me a ticket to Neverland and a new blue suitcase.
No bookstore sells a dictionary to decipher the language of us.
So we roam through the pages of our home
like foreign words looking for their accents and their loose interpretations,
each to each other as Polish pottery to eastern Carolina earthenware,
mrkvový dort to buttered southern biscuits.
Like a sooth deduces her tea leaves,
I read our future
in the way you ride bikes with our boys,
order my own disarray,
learn the music that makes our daughter dance.
This is how we raise our children up,
these are the thermals on which they will ascend.
This is the world we traverse in however many days.