As the device completes the final murmurs of its
Pleasant mantra, the ritual proceeds to its
Second phase: before lifting the device in question
I place the bag – no, not loose leaf, but
A true tea bag – into the wholesome mug.
I scatter white grain, to sweeten its earthiness.
At this time, I handle the cradle of the kettle
To pour forth the sonorous, simmering water
And the white of the mug’s clean centre soon
Fades grey like a sunset in late autumn.
This, this is the fact of the matter: as I press
The pouch of tea leaves to one side of the mug,
It does not bleed out that rich, ripe effusion.
Nor does it seep out, soft and insidious.
Nor, indeed, does it flow like a slow fog, or mist.
Instead, it flickers outward like a flame,
Dark flames underwater, in plumes of silent smoke.
And before stirring it to equanimity,
While it’s still distinct, I bless the curls of bitter
Cloud, for the sake of the fine, harsh flavour they will bring.