The Book Life

4.16 | April 18, 2010

Nothing But Coffee

I remembering hating coffee. Trying to teach myself
to drink it, in college, because I thought I should, or something.
The styrofoam cups in the front study room
of the house we called our own, so tiny, always in danger
of spilling. I hated it, dumped milk and sugar in,
still made faces. It took dessert to start the sway.
The sweet to cut the bitter, but keeping the two
separate, because adding sugar straight
actually made the coffee worse. But having the two
just near one another, a bite, a sip –

Learning more about the value of separation
backpacking in Europe, I also learned to order cappuccinos,
because in every country, that word means the same drink,
and my life had enough other surprises in it.
So now cappuccinos remind me of Europe,
making espresso seem sweeter than it is.

Some other tricks: coffee tastes better outside,
at a cafe table or wandering a farmers’ market. Fresh air
improves it. Inside is good too, but only on the mornings
waking up in someone else’s apartment,
skin warm from good morning and coffee made
for two. I remember also that this was always
bound to happen, going to coffee shops in high school
to listen to boys play acoustic guitars,
feeling so fake-adult and parent-free,
drinking hot chocolate but smelling
nothing but coffee.

[PROPMT: Pick a smell, wherever you are right now. Free write on that smell for five minutes, then make a poem.]



  1. Love the coffee memories, so vivid and alive even today. Also – thanks for writing to my prompt. 🙂 Happy NaPoWriMo!

    Comment by Julie Jordan Scott — April 19, 2010 @ 8:38 am

  2. I like the coffee waking up in someone else’s apartment and backpacking in Europe…nice poem

    Comment by Rallentanda — April 19, 2010 @ 9:45 am

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