A Cup of Coffee

by Russell Thornton

We forgot we had coffee in front of us
and after a while it sat there untouched
as if our hours of talking had forced it
to be partially drunk the same in both cups,
the way the law of gravity makes any liquid find its level.

We forgot and did not care where we were
when we nestled in a dark far corner
of a rundown restaurant named Lentzos –
where they never bothered us, never kicked us out,
but instead gave us a place to stay all night.

When, a long time later, I looked for you,
I found only addresses in different cities
and phone numbers no longer attached to you,
finally only dates after “born” and “deceased.”

Now, later still, I briefly visit where I once lived,
and look for Lentzos – Montreal landmark
at the corner of Guy and St. Catherine –
and see it gone and see new buildings everywhere.

And I arrive at another café and order a coffee
and I sip until the coffee finds its level
as if the cup sits on the table in a back booth at Lentzos
and still holds my future within it – though it will
never be turned upside down then right side up
and the images and shapes read in the grounds.

If I let half of the coffee stay and go cold,
it will be because I have looked for you
through pictures that show themselves in my memory
knowing you are there but unable to see you clearly,
and I want to keep even what I cannot remember.

If I drink the coffee, all of it, like a potion,
it will be because I want to fall away
to where my memory finds its level apart from me,
as if I am lost within what I cannot see
and have no need to remember what I cannot leave,
and the coffee I taste is all the coffee
I did not drink with you when you were alive.

— from Juniper Volume 3, Issue 3