“The Art of Drinking Coffee Slowly”

The Art of Drinking Coffee Slowly


I suppose the title

of this piece

prepares you to hear

one of two stories.

Perhaps you want to hear about

the worldly professional woman

in her late twenties

who perches on the balcony of her

chic, urban condo in downtown Vancouver.

It’s late spring, in the early morning.

Lush, blooms of purple clematis vines

surround her on bamboo lattices.

Hanging baskets full of

candy corn coloured nasturtiums dangling down lazily

in the cool morning breeze.

Perhaps she is single,

and happy

after years of yoga and meditation,

dog-earring dozens of self-help books, and

$8000 worth of psychotherapy.

She has done “the work.”

Or perhaps she has a lover sleeping inside,

replete and sated in

a nest of Egyptian cotton bed sheets,

he drapes one muscular arm over a smooth chest and taunt stomach,

the other behind his head, fingers entwining in

messy chestnut locks.

Either way she sits like a purring cat

on her balcony at the top of the world,

at the edge of western civilization.

Freshly showered and confident, she lounges

on a voluptuously cushioned, wooden chaise

and watches the day roll slowly toward her.

She holds a beautifully crafted

ceramic mug full

of coffee inside that gently warms her skin

through the fabric of her plush bathrobe.

Perhaps the coffee is nothing but the finest

single-origin, shade grown, organic,

fair-trade, naturally decaffeinated,

lightly roasted and freshly ground

elixir that could possibly be created

by any means on earth.

Black, of course.

Coffee that fine is only spoiled by augmentation.

She read once that how you live your life

is reflected in how you take your coffee.

If you are sitting in a university office,

or swish downtown café,

perhaps that is the story you want to hear.


On the other hand…


Perhaps you want to hear about

the grizzled and weary old man

hunched over a grimy linoleum table

in an all-night diner at 3am.

It is the dead of winter and

a brutal Thunder Bay blizzard rages outside

the thin and frosty windows.

He sits alone

with a few other lost souls

scattered at other tables,

all looking hastily about at one another

like a pack of starved dogs.

Perhaps the shelter was full

or closed.

Perhaps, once upon a time,

the man started drinking when

his wife died of cancer

or left him for another man.

Perhaps he lost his job at the factory when

he came to work hung over and

crushed his hand in a press.

Perhaps he’s never been kissed.

Either way he sits hunched over

a cup half empty

styrofoam with beige slurry,

more sugar and cream than coffee,

sipping slowly and savoring

the quickly dispersing warmth

in his arthritic hands.

His mind weighs his body’s need

for caffeine and calories

with the need to drink it slowly.

Once the weighty waitress in the hairnet,

glowering like a gargoyle from behind the counter,

sees that he is finished

he will either have to

pay and leave or order something else.

He has no money for anything else.

Perhaps no money for the coffee he sips.

If you are in a similar diner

reading this piece

maybe that is what you expect.

Perhaps that is how you read


The Art of Drinking Coffee Slowly

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