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,

Mummified deities.



Each time, my mother’s hands

Ministering some communion of sacrifice

Pre-empting our own day of reckoning.