Growing Pains

As a kid,

I used to chew my straw
into a plastic pulp,
a frayed sprawling flag
to mark my dominion
above juice boxes
or chocolate milks or
various vibrant-colored
hummingbird syrups.

But now, chomping down hard
on my stainless steel, eco-friendly,
dishwasher-safe reusable straw,
a sharp pain buzzes
up my incisors into cheekbone,
the sip of iced americano—black–
bitter, cold, and a little bit acidic.

Difficult to swallow.

Stubborn

Despite being a small girl
with small hands

I don’t hold my coffee mug
by the handle but rather, firmly

with a flat palm against hot ceramic,
burning fingers tensed all the way to elbow,
metacarpal tendons shaking slightly,
pursed lips

sipping slowly, the coffee, black and scalding, the handle rendered
a useless decorative buttress.

Am I not afraid of dropping a hot mug of coffee on my feet?
A small-handed girl in a big-mug world,
does it not burn, sweetie?

Lips un-pursing, I smile cooly.

Maybe.

Hermione sits in a Starbucks and contemplates institutionalized intimacy

Sing, Muses, of the lust of Aphrodite,
who lives in the the swirling of milk in coffee,
who makes the world spin in sips of conversation
in muffled cafes, where things begin.

Sing, Muses for The Girl who caused the Trojan War,
who was fucking things up far before Menelaus
ever realized his wife was a cheating whore,
who made the mistake of asking for more
sugar in her cappuccino.

Sing, Muses of that baby goddess
who stepped on other’s lives with freshly-formed feet,
who didn’t look down to see the bronze ring
of coffee left on the table when the cafe closed
and a stranger helped her with her coat.

Muses, sing for my mother, Helen,
who grinds coffee beans with her hands
in the home of a younger man, and
who doesn’t hate the other woman,
or my father, who takes his coffee black.

Muses, sing for me, the daughter
who gives away numbers without counting
who visits many coffee shops and drinks lattes
bought by others.

Muses, sing for all the girls
who have caffeine addictions,
who leave wet rings on wooden tables.

Sing for the women with coffee stains on their togas.