Americano, Cappuccino

Morning coffee looked like this
Just like today
I'd take my coffee black
To go

Americano, Cappuccino
Mine of the darker tribe
He took his creamy and sweet
Like his skin
Like his privilege

I drank black coffee
Powerful and indifferent
I'd water it down only after he taught me patience
To experience my morning Java like I should have experienced people
Slowly, paying attention
Not just taking what I needed and running
Acting surprised when I would hurt
An hour later
Like everything I held inside was fighting

I'd never met anyone who would take time
At 3pm
For coffee and calories
An hour of my time just to enjoy
Pay attention
I learned patience
And how to take the heat
From the most high-strung man I'd ever known
Since my father

So we finished each meal
With views of concrete
Or of a side street
Sometimes the cost was worth the service
One Americano
One Cappuccino
(but usually not)

It was never just morning coffee
Before long I too became

An honorary European

And a little more high-strung
Bred into a culture which synonymized
'sorry' with 'alright'
In a pretentious search for a better life
My taste in coffee
Made me strong, powerful
And I learned to speak up every time
It wasn't alright

In all my attempts to heal myself
Someone so unlike me taught me presence

By his tiny cups of coffee
Always single shots to protect the heart
But we took doubles here

And so it’s no surprise I struggled to breathe as I climbed stairs
Cursing the morning
as hot coffee dripped down the side of my hand
as I rushed from one place to another
never engaged but still committed

to the things I didn’t want
That love wasn’t built
to stretch across the widest ocean front
or a twenty-hour time difference
worth pretending
we could make it

Instead I order a single shot
and try to drink it slower
I still take what I need from every drink
even though they make me older
And no longer
does this Canadian soul

order one Americano
No longer sorry
Whether things make me angry
or alright
My priority
is making sure I can sleep
through the night

My umbrella
in this new rainy place is the dripping of jackets on the floor
the dash into shelter as the wind howls, louder
And ordering one last coffee

before they close
One decaf dirty almond chai
easier on the stomach
and creamy brown like my own skin
yet warm enough to calm the ghosts
the ones that followed me here from home
one Americano

one Cappuccino
an order worlds so far away
from the peace
and the loveliness here
I now call my own

© Mary dela Torre, 2016