One Cup at a Time

It's been a long time since
I've had coffee at home,
and my father was up before
the sun rose over the window sills.

"Old habits," he chides as my footfalls
grow from a 2 to a 10 and
I stand there with my hands out
at the bottom of the steps.

"Die hard," I respond.
There's one chair open across from
his gaze and he motions,
the light breaking into shadows.

"Coffee?" though he had a full
cup halfway to his mouth already.
I nod. There comes a point where
words are lost in their labyrinth.

"Coffee is delicate." He says as
he wanders into the kitchen.
"Funny thing is, you can't get it
to the point to drink it until after it

has been through a furnace."
He does this, dad. Long winded,
unnecessary, addling diatribes.
It must be stamped on his dad card.

I peered up to him and all I could see
in the strained morning light was the
same man who tossed me into the pool,
who took his hands off the bicycle seat,

who laughed when I told him I was in love
and who worked seven days a week
in a job that took him from home
for the other days.

"Perhaps that's why it's bitter,"
I said, thinking myself clever.
"Bitter," he repeated, shifting his weight
while the grinding incessantly

droned a chipped homily behind him.
"There is an aggravated pop. That's
how you know it's reached the end
of its roast. But you know what

the most interesting thing is?"
I shook my head, still dozing in
the grey preawakening.
"It's that coffee is still the breakfast

beverage of choice." He smiled at me,
all those grinding questions that have
driven me mad over my life
spinning and chipping in my mind.

The water on the kettle whistled.
"The water can't be boiling when
you pour it into the press."
I could still feel the moment of

pure weightlessness after his
hands were pulled from my bicycle
seat. Part of me thought he was
still there as I pedaled myself straight

into the concrete. Anger, it is said,
resides in fear. What I felt that day
was fear riding in the hot seat
behind the handlebars.

"You want to pour the water in slowly,
for you don't want to burn the beans."
My fingers could recall scraping the air
for something to breathe in, while I could

see him standing there, arms folded
staring at my flailing body, mouthing
indifference to me. But as I watch the
hot water spill into the press, I seemed

to recall the indifference was
"Come on, boy...
"How long is it supposed to steep?"
I told him, "it's supposed to steep

for four minutes,"
29 years,
"sometimes longer for the lighter
roasts." He grinned and waited for four

minutes. Then, his steady hands,
the same that steered me into freedom,
that taught me to breathe, and feel the
corners of my heart, pressed down the plunger.

We had coffee that morning, just he and I,
like we used to when my fingers
were covered in paint
and his face was painted with a smile.


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