It Gets Bitter At the End
He saw me staring,
from the corner of the kitchen.
The cold white tile beneath my small toes,
and my eyes gleaming at the steaming cup,
as he raised it to his face.
The fragrance danced between his mustache,
and tickled his nose, making a smile on his lips.
I’d watched him just before,
waiting patiently with him as the brown liquid dropped
and hissed into the pot,
the warm smell filling the space,
and my mind.
He made us wait an extra moment
Just to be sure
and then poured himself a cup,
in a mug printed with a Garfield cartoon.
It was Saturday morning
and my sisters slept as he poured
half and half until a white cloud plumed.
Cream always rises,
he’d chuckled to himself.
I’d handed him a spoon that was more gray than silver,
which he dipped into the sugar jar, not once, not twice,
but two and a half times,
Just sweet enough.
Who knows why that morning,
which was like most mornings,
he handed me the cup.
You try it.
I drank and the taste was love.
You can have it.
And as I drank the sweetness and smiled,
I started to make him another cup.
And I can’t help but to ask myself why,
now that he’s gone,
why am I listening to a man,
the minister of a church he never attended,
talk about my dad.
Droning on for thirty minutes,
in front of flowers and a casket,
a man that knows nothing about him,
not even how he likes his coffee.
Melanie Jones is a poet and short story writer living in Chicago. She has an MFA in Creative Writing from Roosevelt University. Her writing focuses on small moments that reveal the marrow, believing it is the variation of reactions to universal experiences that are the most intimate. In the poem “It Gets Bitter at the End,” an ode turns to an elegy, drawing inspiration from Ross Gay’s poem “Spoon,” from the poetry collection, Catalogue of Unabashed Gratitude. The speaker recalls a favorite memory of her late father and struggles with the circumstances of his funeral.