Bitter Coffee - Poem by Catharine Macauley
The steam rises off of my latte, twists in the cold air,
Like smoke, rising off of a burning village,
A latte costs three dollars Canadian,
It would cost an American two fifty,
It would cost a man in a boardroom wearing an expensive suit one phone call,
For a whole shipment of beans,
In Colombia, most people can’t afford lattes.
My frappachino is cold, the air is hot,
Condensation rolls off it, like a tank rolling through the streets of Bogota,
Under the sweetness of the cream, there is a bitter aftertaste,
Like the one the man in the boardroom sometimes gets after a call with his contacts in Colombia.
My mocha is dark, swirling
It tastes like chocolate, like coffee, like something deeper,
My elbow catches it, knocks it over, it flows from the cup,
Muddy like the Magdelena,
Which flows through forests filled with trees dripping with dark bean pods,
The workers dip their hands into it, sip it like I sip my coffee.
Sometimes I don’t get coffee, sometimes I get soda water with cherry syrup in it,
The syrup suspends itself in the water, deep and red, like blood,
In Colombia I don’t think they have cherry Italian Sodas
The red that stains the hands of the man in the boardroom isn’t syrup.
But the aftertaste of the Magdelena, and the aftertaste from my café au lait are the same;
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