My Father Insists on Tea

By: Taylor Armstrong

Tea rings
On the old oak table.
I run my fingers over
Their impressions,
Left by mugs
Too hot to hold
Who seared their feet
Into the wood.
Tiny grave markers
Of so many other Saturday mornings.
My words trip over them
As they make their way across the table
To my father.
How much
Has been lost
On that treacherous journey?

The so sweet to be melancholy
Smell of honey,
The sharp to a point
Scent of Earl Grey
Pierce through lingering sleep,
As the caffeine, my father, and I
Try to wake the dead.
How many Saturday mornings
Have had to witness
The violent end
Of a Friday night’s rest?

I count the tea rings-
I stop.
I already know.
56 years.
Is that long enough
For tea to sink
Into our bones,
Leaving perfect pale circles
Across my father’s towering structure?

I pour my tea down the drain.
The dead should stay buried.

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