Instant Coffee

In the field it was medicinal. Huddled under my camo hooch,
raindrops pelting the poncho. Meals-ready-to-eat came with a
water heater: steaming sludge in a tin cup, monitoring radio
static in a storm while the joes slept in the chilled leaves.

Those were the days when everything moved me.
When any moment I could flake bark from a trunk
and drink some galaxy eddying in the xylem.

Cruel that the years which sharpen the pen in turn
dull the tongue

that our children, those little moon-ghosts
of ourselves haunting our orbits, suckle our tides then
mock our receptors deadened to the salt

that these seas like chaliced acid we must pass them
with shaking hands.

The shrinking we call taste.

You have no children to pain you. You wear your particularities
lightly and would never suffer instant coffee to cross
your lips. Your palate is divine, if a little

pretentious. Once you left a coral lipstick imprint on the white
cap of your overpriced Americano, glancing flirtation
swallowed by the underswell. You said it

was worth it, and I agreed.

No one could accuse you of shyness. Self-possession of bitter roast
brewed with juniper resin. But the transient vein in your forehead—
well, it betrays you at times. Flash flooding when you’re sheepish,

when you’re caught. These days I catch
myself teasing you for its shock of flavor. Its
Milky Way current cutting sharp across the tongue.

Lindsay Clark is a non-traditional medical student and army veteran living in New York City.

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