A Demi-Tasse of Secrets
by Josie Di Sciascio-Andrews
We always had espresso
At the mahogany table.
Poured it into thick white porcelain
With silver spoons lined up
Like tin soldiers ready to delve
Into newly filled sugar bowls.
Sometimes we poured it
Into gold-rimmed demi-tasses.
Steamy, dark bitterness
Made bearable with sweets, glazed
In the hues of stars and moons.
As we partook of such rituals, we repeated
Things we’d newly heard of deaths,
Of someone’s newly diagnosed illness, of scandals,
Eagerly honing in on the intimate shreds of tales
That were not ours, but might as well have been
Crucifixions, as if those moments at the kitchen table
Transmuted into holy ghosts upon an altar;
The coffee, the bitterest cup of a life of scarcity
And we, the unaware diviners
Of something darker and deeper still.
Our words lingering around the table’s circularity
With the trepidation of hands
Entwined in seance, as the sibilants
Of our whispered secrets rose from our rouged lips.
And what was somehow invoked
In our midst through our innocent chatter,
Hovered its foreboding in an inaudible rattle
Of invisible bones.
I always remember
Coffee at my mother’s house like this.
A holy mass, and the sun
Slicing cones of light
Through the kitchen window.
On the trivet, the aluminum Moka
Offering its one-armed metal body
To be decanted and partaken of.
The golden sweets brought out with care
From wax paper-lined tupperware,
Each time, my mother’s hands
Ministering some communion of sacrifice
Pre-empting our own day of reckoning.