Southeast Review, 2014 Spring Writing Regimen Contest
I love tea. The steam, the smell, the fragile little bags, light as a feather, encasing the dark magic: shrunken leaves that transform into a heavenly perfumed liquid – gold, black, pale green, whispering softly on the tongue. Flavors, bergamot, vanilla, anise, and honey, lovingly coat the mouth and throat when mixed with milk and sugar. The porcelain cup, thin as paper between the lips, reveals painted flowers at the bottom.
I love how the boxes evoke the colors of our expectations: morning wake-up red, drowsy afternoon yellow, somber grey for cloudy skies, black for stormy writing.
I would gladly drink more tea but caffeine keeps me awake all hours of the night. So I restrict myself to one cup of chamomile; a midday treat. Pour boiling water on the small dried daisies and herbs and the transformation begins. They swell, petals floating like a small child’s hair on a clear lake, twisting and turning in the spoon’s current. It’s a sweet smell: lemony, tangy, like grass, like a meadow. I don’t add anything; the taste needs no help from me.
We drink the tea’s former beauty, growing free and wild on the hillsides. We remember our eager hands making daisy chains and crowns. That is why it tastes so good. We can feel tiny roots sprouting from our feet until we too become shriveled and brown, enrobed in cotton cloth, beneath the ground.