I'm five and I'm wearing your high heels and your good church hat
Splayed in front of us are cups and saucers, intricately painted with purple flowers
We sit on the kitchen floor, sipping luke-warm tea, crunchy with sugar cubes
You tell me it's delicious, just the way you like it. You ask for more.
I'm ten and my cheeks are red with cold, you unwrap my scarf and brush snow from my hair
A puddle forms on the floor as I defrost, wet wool fills the air and the kettle sings my favorite tune
I am cocooned in a patchwork quilt when you set the mug in my hands
It burns my frozen fingers as the steam heats my face. We sit and sip, silent as the snow.
I'm fifteen and I have chapped lips. My eyes are swollen but the tears have recessed.
I am sure I will never love again. I know that no one has ever suffered this deeply.
My door opens and I hear a rattling of plates. Your face shifts between false cheer and understanding
We sit cross-legged together on my bed, foreheads touching as my eyes contribute their liquid to the cups
I'm grown and I know now it's not the tea that sweetened and warmed and healed
It's you that I needed, and you I need still, to put pieces back when they fall
The kettle still sings, but a more solemn tune, now that your accompaniment is gone
I sit with my girl now, she pours for us both. It's just the way I like it.