Three Cups of Tea
Nothing is a straight line; rows are just cuts pieced together
and always bending somewhere.
This is the rockbed of camellia, he sweeps, to
sunhat days lined with fading.
Monsoons wear everything
down to crow’s feet, he squints,
and speckled brown skin.
Here is a cracking, he extends his fingers,
shriveled time unfurling like tea leaves
The mountain sunrise is careless even when you have crossed
years to get to this moment of light.
It will steep the same again and again,
she swears by the trickle of her pot,
words splattering in clay cups while
he grins in early hour,
I know a place better than the map.
To prove this he will hurry the dark,
fuss with the engine key, spit a sticky dawn out his throat.
In my laboured dreaming, the night is a soft pour into morning.
They will quarrel in the humidity of orchids over
words trickling down squat rock heavy with years.
He will stalk off to smoke, collared shirt unbuttoned
and fluttering over the valley like a pulse
while later—always—over oolong they eat,
clean the living room and fold over into sleep
side by side, fingertips steeping.
I think of a brown pot of leaves, two old sets of hands,
and these mountains that flush and drain.
Our other cat disappeared,
she tells me the next afternoon,
a bent shape in the faded doorframe,
followed his lust and wandered too far from home.
Loose hair strands spin like weather vanes around her face,
line against lines:
like how it rains up here, or the roads I take to leave.
I call him at the roadside gate and wait sometimes,
she pushes a wrinkle from her floral pant leg,
But I think he’s gone for good now.
Jasmine Gui is a Guest Writer for Panorama.
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