The first time I drank coffee I choked it down
like a mouth of burning cities
in the face of a smiling afternoon
a sharp-eyed sybaritic aunt-in-waiting
and a dress shirt poorly fit.

Then it became a challenge
the ritual of it all. Spoon of sugar
raw from the paper, two-toned
grinders, cappuccinos at sushi,
and the cessation of the thrill
of the nighttime hit, of the knife-flat
twitch under a shapeless, dirty shirt.

How to pour the cream, or to sneak
a pair of velvet gloves
left dust-covered in behind the books.
How to sip my cup of coffee
in a diner in the dark.
To sip wine, plot revolution
as the cities began to burn.

Two mugs upon the counter, one for him
and one for me. The blinding light of morning,
the grinder in the box. The hunter and the hunted,
iced coffee and Oakland. The mugs are in the cabinet,
the press, hung on the wall.

And I will burn through cities,
sybaritic, sharp-eyed girl.
And I will sip my coffee,
and walk away from this.

Unscathed, but not unscarred
there will be other mugs and other mornings.
I will become aunt, errant and coffee-bearer,
and the city will burn with a golden light.

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