We were born of tea – our mum
could drink near 14 cups a day, an
awesome feat to try to rationalise,
beyond belief unless you knew where
we had one she would have three.
The perfect cup, she said, was never
one; I understood in sum that meant
at least a pot of tea for two, a cuppa
shared with time to talk, perhaps a
scone with cream and jam.
It seemed to be the nicest way to hail
a friend of old, a friend to be, a greeting
with a pot of tea. We learned to make
the perfect cup when we earned our
mother’s trust, could bank the stove,
raise the heat ’til kettle boiled, warm
the teapot, measure tea (with extra
for the Queen or pot – it mattered not),
fill the pot with ease and free of incident
or scald, dress it in a stained and holey,
tattered old bequeathed tea cosy, wait
for it to draw, cups and saucers placed
with tiny, anxious hands afraid to break
a member of the set, milked and
sugared ready for the pour.
If there was more to life than this we had
to meet it yet. And Mother in her driven
quest, when all had sipped would ask
for more – even in a land of plenty,
ensure the blessed pot was empty.
© I.D. Carswell