Who knew that the child, screwing up his face
at that first sip, would find this a necessity;
the aroma suffusing mornings where a radio plays
extracts of bombing runs, gunshots outside a café
as he stands by the humming machine’s twin streams,
flicking the switch when the last drops pock the crema.
He might down it on the spot, or sit on the step to watch
sparrows dust-bathe. Often, he’ll carry the cup to the room
where he pours memories into a book, looking up to find
his reflection floating in a black sky. Maybe if all the cups
he’d drunk were stood in line they’d stretch to Ethiopia
where the kaffa plant grew among the first humans.
His heart, once as easily excited by this dark syrup
as by a lover’s touch, has grown steady, accustomed.
From The Great Animator, Shoestring Press, March 2017.