I accidentally looked past fall and saw the grey wet skies of winter. In a flash of memory I tasted a hot sip of coffee I drank a few thousand miles from here, and even further away when measured by sips of coffee tasted since. I slurped that hot sip in with a rush of cooling air across the roof of my mouth, and burbled it like a sommelier, but I was just a prep cook in a pair of forgotten pants and a blue plaid shirt. I remember that shirt for the polyester quilting inside that made it warmer than it looked. That shirt is long gone and lost, although I do remember it making it back across the Mississippi river with me.
Why this memory here? Why now, as I gun the van into Monday morning traffic on a narrow canopy road in town, the same grey sky as ten thousand sips ago? the air just as thick and claustrophobia inducing, but 30 degrees warmer. That cold wet air kept outside my blue plaid shirt just as long gone as the shirt itself.
Maybe there is something important to remember about that morning? Too bad I have so few clues to go on. I sip this morning’s coffee, the push pot said Chiapas, and the phrase the blood of the peasants, runs through my thoughts. It is the blood of the peasants that makes it taste so rich. Were those words that I spoke that morning a river of coffee ago? Did I overhear it?
This seems to be a significant detail, so I put it in my sleuthing folder with the blue plaid shirt and the faceless pants, and that leads me to a sous chef I worked under, and how he studied poetry at Reed, and how he couldn’t flip a saute pan to save his life. He put his clumsy fingers in my trinity and flickered the diced pieces about with a scowl. I pictured those fingers tumbling out as free agents into the sizzling pan, my 13″ Chef’s knife marinated in poet’s blood.
Now I remember. That sip of coffee, bought with a precious squandered dollar as a free man with no income. A peasant reclaiming his blood.