Charles Farrell   © 2010 All Rights Reserved

Coffee

What’s strange is that I never stopped
opening my eyes in that room without
windows, that tomb we said and agreed
standing was better than lying down—
even when you called me girl I didn’t
stop to reach for names. You shawled
our bodies with bed sheets and claimed
some alien sense from a nub at the base
of your head. You found my tongue there
every morning. Mine was the loneliness
of waking, a woman with common knots.
Outside, the leashes taut, the tugged men,
the rain flaying long-strided strangers
in ordinary clothes. A prism in a kitchen
window, day-old coffee grounds, cigarette
filters spinning in a toilet bowl. Puddles
never spoke to me. We were something
I could climb, root-by-root and naked
while another woman’s hair still mapped
your pillow. If I believed in signs, this
was the urgency of homing bones. Sweat
real as a candle pushed back on its nail.
Those mornings we sipped coffee blacker
than I could stand, I never said bitter—
even when you started using my name
in bed. No one wants to be simple
as blame or the word anger, so I held
my tongue to something foreign.
I never asked for anything sweet.

 

Lisa Fay Coutley
Copyright © 2010  

Lisa Fay Coutley’s chapbooks are In the Carnival of Breathing (Black Lawrence Press, forthcoming 2011) and Back-Talk (Articles Press, 2010). She is associate poetry editor for Passages North, and her work has appeared most recently or is forthcoming in Fugue, Juked, Blackbird, Pebble Lake Review, Hollins Critic, and Cave Wall.


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