My coffee cup is a moment of stillness so unlike the headlong hurtling present. Painted Japanese characters dangle from its rim like icicles from a timeline. I don’t know what they mean. But this is what I want them to mean. The mind races but, to the mind, a Japanese cup seems frozen, fixed and durable, not quite rock but petrified. I want to not quite kiss you, for you to feel not quite kissed. The cup has no handle because: too hot to handle is too hot to drink. You’ll wait, I hope, and cool a little while I heat. A riddle while we wait. Liquid is a snare; gas another snare; steam is how coffee transcends, but only while it’s steam. What is the cup. What are you in the doorway, not yet in the room, no longer outdoors. What is the smell of coffee. It makes you laugh to stand there on the threshold teetering toward the bed, cold, underdressed, not because it’s funny. You can’t believe you’re waiting there, because I’ve asked you to, so I can memorize this frozen moment, shivering between two raptures. The winter lawn was bracing, I imagine. I heard you laugh when the cold dawn knocked you down. If you can exit this little emergency, the bed will toast you. I’ve asked you to wait. I don’t expect you to comply. I’m not sure I would do the same. On tiptoe, in frosty boots, you vibrate in the instant, but stand and gather your open garment and wear my gaze. The coffee has no sense of humor. The coffee cannot be cajoled. You lean toward the bed and shiver and laugh through your nose and grant me the gift of this transcendent moment which sustains me long after you’ve gone.

Copyright ©2006 David Hodges

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