tea ceremony

by Terry Dawson

the exact color of money
booklets of them piling up. we all
had our own dreams of what
to exchange our collected green stamps for. we
licked and fit these tiny dollar bills
into squares on pages like bingo chips yet
blackout of solid green proved the only
winning configuration

we would not retrieve the badminton
set I’d already begun in my mind to hammer
into our backyard’s barely green
patch of lawn or the baby doll
stroller, fantasy of my older
sisters, but a stainless steel copper-bottomed
tea kettle replete with green and blue
Tartan plaid cozy

the day before my First Communion
the old kettle, left on the stove too long,
burnt clean through while dozens
of relatives and neighbors would arrive for
the after sacrament party and tea
there must be tea to accompany the
soda bread wrapped in moist tea towels
and powder sugar heavy Russian tea
cookies lousy with walnuts

the first of many acquisitions
it would begin our ceremonious travel
to the specially designated store dinner dishes left
in the sink, all six of us waited for
our uncle to retrieve us from the door of our flaking Kelly
green front porch we piled in and filed out
ducklings moving down the aisles of
household items, sporting goods, tools
and lawn chairs to claim what rightfully
ours, representing months of groceries carried
by all of us for miles from the A&P in East Liberty

tea there must be tea my mother
proud of the water’s first boiling,
declared with a novel whistle
we gathered round the table before
bed as we did each night
I’d consume the body and blood of
Christ the next morning excited and
frightened, I sipped our virgin kettle’s pekoe
brew thoughts of badminton seeping through —
my white tennis shoes planted expectantly between
foot-shaped wreaths of damp green blades.
“next time,” I fervently prayed, “next time”

Terry Dawson lives and writes in Austin Texas, where he leads a muti-ethnic poetry, jazz and live painting group known as Five Voizz Brush. The group performs twice a year in the spring and fall. Its work has been aired on KUTX radio, Austin. Terry’ poetry has appeared in several issues of Connecticut’s Red Fox Review and he was a finalist in the state’s Chase Going Woodhouse Poetry Competition. His poem’s have also appeared the Austin International Poetry festival’s diverse-city anthology 2016 & 2017. One of his poems was long-listed for Ireland’s 2017 Fish Anthology Poetry Contest.

Photo by: Ana Prundaru