One of my eldest memories
is when my maternal granny
taught me the civility of two
people enjoying afternoon tea

We were living in Pottsville
sharing a big old house with
Mom’s parents and sister in
Pennsylvania’s coal country

Dad was in Philly working at
a shipyard so until he could
afford a flat for us we lived
with Mom’s folks, the Purcells

All were at work or school
except Nana and I one warm
fall afternoon and she favored
the Irish zeal for 3 pm tea

The tabletop was chin level
for me and my legs dangled
below table's cloth as Nana
filled two dainty cups for us

“Doesn’t it smell good!” she
said as the white pot’s spout
poured an arc of amber pekoe
into white cups on white cloth

She allowed us each a blonde
cookie after adding milk to
amber and stirring as she told
of how best to make Irish tea

And as young as I was it still
was clear that Nana wanted
company and that for her this
ritual was one of life’s joys

She spoke of her parents who’d
come from Ireland, showing me
a turn-of-century photo of her
Mom with four grown daughters

Nana was young and thin
and her Mom wore a black
closed-neck dress with her
hair tied back as do Koreans

Five decades later, Jade and I
seek the civility of java shops
less for its bitter beans than the 
civility of Nana’s 3 pm tea

We talk and talk and for sure
those who thought they knew
me well would be surprised
to see me say as much as I do

In fact, we buy but one cup
and share that plus a bun for
each which takes three hours
to down amid unhurried chat

And sometimes as Jade talks
I recall when legs dangled
and my chin was at tabletop,
listening to Nana teach of tea

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