first draft

it’s an old, crackled coffee cup,
the kind that should have a saucer…
indigo flowers and leaves hand painted imperfectly
soft pottery, not porcelain
it thuds when you tap it

the handle is one half a small heart
large enough to hook one finger
to the first knuckle – your thumb flat
on the top curve, and your bent
middle finger adding support below

you could raise your pinky, but though
it is delicate compared to a modern mug
it does not foster fanciness, rather invites
you left hand – assuming a right handed drinker –
to loop comfterbly around it (yes, comfterbly)

not for warmth, or because it’s heavy to hold,
but just because it invites both hands,
in fact, I tend to pick it up with my left hand,
three bottom fingers and thumb lightly in place,
pointer almost resting across the top,

then hook into the handle with my right index finger,
slide the left thumb and fingers back
it invites ritual
to slow down just a minute
to savor your morning cup of elixir

I bought it at Ophelia’s in Georgetown,
Had gone looking for blue and white plates,
There it sat, out of place, an afterthought
amongst Blue Willow and old Spode china
reaching for me like density (hello, McFly)

each time I set it down I study the stained
crackles, look for the secret surprise of the
squiggled flowers at the bottom, and wonder
at the one, errant blue dot halfway up the inside
where the painter carelessly touched his brush

someone loved this cup, and used it, a lot
I imagine it traveling across the prairie, bounced
and threatened by each jolt of the wheels,
or presented with a whole set as a treasured gift,
or just catching someone’s eye as it caught my hand

on some shelf in some shop with no great story.
Oh my, it has morphed as I’ve study it,
smooth where thumbs and fingers have held it, and…
Oh, I’d best just fill it from the freshly brewed pot
and let the analysis melt with the heat of my morning joe.

rJo Herman

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