Through experience I’ve learnt to stomach you cold late at night,
Even though I know you’re best drunk hot on a cold morning.
They say I like you best because you’re warm, hands in mine
And a kindly hug at the loneliest moments, and maybe that’s true.
After all, tea is for sharing, for afternoons around a table
Whether in a thermos at a park or well-loved mugs in the home.
You bring us together, why else would your pots come with so many cups?
Outside, the sky is streaked with grey, and I’m making tea.
I set two mugs down on the stained bench and fill them both with parts of you.
Two spoons of sugar, one bag each – how many have I made by now?
I don’t know. I only see the two of you, always in groups of two.
You’re both mine, I have no-one to share you with.
The sky beyond the window darkens with the approach of night.
The kettle I go to refill has no attached lid.
It was brand new when it broke, we haven’t replaced it.
I fill it up to the line with the tap that sprays wildly,
And wait for it to boil while I crash into the pantry
For more of you to fill that little box in the cupboard
Above the bench, the tea emporium’s newest branch.
There’s a moth in that kettle, floating on a raft of dust
From its own wings, drowned and boiled.
I take a tablespoon from the drawer behind me
And chase it against the glass walls to fish it out.
It won’t come off the spoon, so into the sink it goes,
Moth and all.
I still fill those mugs with the moth’s demise,
Two minutes, pulling on those strings like a puppet-master,
Then too much milk, a swirling hurricane of white cloud
Gone in a second as I hunt for your bodies,
Your strings lost, dragged down by the shock of milk
Poured in from its carton too fast, a hungry whirlpool.
I pick the mugs up and bring them back to my room.
I kick the door but it does not open.
My door is broken, its handle duct taped onto the wood of it.
The ceiling fan inside is broken too.
I don’t know how long they’ve been broken.
Most things are in this house.
You sit proudly in twos on my bedside table as the slog continues
Time spirals away from me, hours and hours gone
With nothing really to show for it, just a few more pages.
You are cold and pale now, forgotten just an arm’s length away.
Your sweetness isn’t enough, I’ve done this many times before,
But if I don’t drink you, that’s wasting milk.
I gulp you down and get back to the grindstone.
The sky outside is beginning to lighten at the horizon
Where it greyed last night when I made you.
Your descendants will grow old and cold too
In this same place where you fell,
Far faster than I can drink them, sweet yet bitter.
I rise from my bed and grab the mugs
To usher in the next generation.
Jack is an emerging queer writer and digital artist in his last year of a BFA in Creative Writing. When not editing, writing, or daydreaming about his first novel, he can be found drawing art for it, which can be found on his Instagram (@jack.eli.fletcher).