This poem was published in Alaska Women Speak’s 2015 Winter Issue. Written especially for their “talking over coffee or tea” issue, this one is “High Tea and Fancy Things.”
High Tea and Fancy Things
You choose Assam for your mother,
because you think it best resembles her tastes:
simple but brisk, a taste familiar
but bolder than her usual Lipton.
For yourself, you choose the Chinese Green Flowering Jasmine
because its fancy green leaves and rosy petals,
hand-sewn to resemble a closed flower that
open when steeped in hot water,
makes you feel sophisticated,
well-traveled and grown up in her presence.
She looks around in the unfamiliar Alaskan tea shop,
many miles from her small, Midwestern hometown,
its fine china teapots with matching blue and white willow
pattern tea cups and silver demitasse spoons.
You both act normal despite the delicate
three-tiered glass tower of French treats and food:
the tomato bisque, petit fours, and purple macaroons.
When her hand reaches for the scone.
she contemplates the small, silver knife,
the one with the curved handle
for spreading the clotted cream,
when the knife drops to the table,
a soft landing on the cloth napkin.
She looks to you and shrugs her shoulders,
grabbing the scone, dipping it into the clotted cream bowl.
Some things are just too fancy, she says.
And, some things need not be, you reply.
You both laugh as you shared in a moment
much prepared for, but made simple as can be.