cabernet, coffee grounds and the in between

January 25, 2012

a lawyer’s wife once told me
upon learning i made my own wine
that she read somewhere
the mark of a good cabernet
is a bouquet reminiscent
of the lingering, mingling smell
(and she said this part with great gusto)
of compost and good sex.
she thought it a remarkably accurate description
and relished in the repeating of it.

i can see her still
tall, thin, satisfied
swirling the imaginary wine glass in her hand
leaning against her white marble counters
a backdrop of wisteria through the kitchen window
her black foster child running amok
through doorways, wildly laughing
as her own white children stood witness

i see and hear her say those words
every time i explore a wine’s bouquet —
and also, oddly
whenever the aroma of
freshly ground coffee
arouses my nose.
it is strange how
on the heels of that memory
scuttles this earlier one:

acrid aroma on the 6 a.m. drive
from my apartment
to my job as scenic carpenter
i drive near enough
to chicago’s trash incinerators
to be surprised over and again
how the pungency of burning garbage
smells like over-roasted coffee beans
ground dark and fine.

so there, perhaps,
is the compost of my thoughts.
and the good sex part of this flashback
sits in the passenger seat beside me
sleepy-eyed, gingerly sipping his java
from an old thermos cup
without spilling or scalding,
both of us wincing when the rising sun
stabs us in the eyes
through the windshield.

such are the strange synaptic
connections that fire
with every glass of cabernet
every scoop of ground coffee
or the unmistakable scent of afterglow,
linking together a rush and tumble
of barefooted sensory imprints
overlapping and stepping on themselves
…smog in sunrise …iron tools, flannel shirts
…thin white hands, invisible glass …sharp smoke
…cool smooth marble …earthy warm moldering leaves
…flashing teeth, laughing child …brown curly hair
…work boots and lunch boxes …creeping flowering vines
…and sleepy, sweet, sweet love beside me

not bad returns for a
first cup o’ joe in the morning
a nightcap before bed
and all that we hope for
in the in between

Karen Suriano


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