i would like to share one of my favorite short stories with you. i love short stories. and this one... i've read over and over again. the story is mournful, lonely, and an illustration of overwhelming sadness. and i find it moving, hopeful and beautiful.
This Is How Good the Coffee by Denise Sammons
It's a grey day, raining and cold, yet I'm sitting, under shelter, outside. Happy. I am loving the feeling of the clambering stopping. Then a tram full of American tourists pulls up outside the cafe and empties its cargo onto the footpath. A woman dressed in pink is telling another - who looks like a baseball on legs, all round and striped - about her problem. 'Oh,' her friend says, 'there's a product on the market for that.'
I sit in the noise and feel a kindness, a warmth, maybe even some kind of love for these loud people. This is how good the coffee is.
I am thinking of the French doors at home and how they will be leaking now (don't tell the real estate agent). Or do tell the real estate agent and maybe our house will never sell. Yes. I am imagining the soft plop, plop of the drops on the inside of the glass. I know you are at home with the open-mouthed boxes that are waiting to swallow our life together. You will be sitting with the cats, reassuring the ones you are taking and saying goodbye to the ones staying with me. In this moment I can almost see how it could all work out for the best. This is how good the coffee is.
Sparrows ring the table where I am sitting. They skid towards my plate, aiming for the muffin, but then they get frightened and slide back to the edge of the table. They have no staying power. Their claws have no traction. Up close their bland commonness is transformed into beauty. The striking marking on their wings making a pleasing contrast to the soft, downy bodies. I want to hold one in my hand so some of that softness could seep into me, into my heart. I know that's impossible. I think of her. I do not smile. No coffee is that good.
from This Is How Good the Coffee Is by Denise Sammons. i found it a book given to me by my Nana. One hundred New Zealand short short stories,edited by Stephen Stratford, 2000.
over the christmas holiday i travelled by train to christchurch. and later home again to wellington.
i think there is something beautiful about taking the train. it's quiet and noisey all at once. sometimes i slept as the train rattled along. i read, daydreamed and listened to the rain. i like to be alone and still surrounded by people and the landscape.
He walked across the length of every carriage looking for the most secluded seat. A disruptive minority of humankind regarded journeys, even short ones, as the occasion for pleasant encounters. There were people ready to inflict intimacies on strangers. Such travellers were to be avoided if you belonged to the majority for whom a journey was the occasion for silence, reflection, daydream. The requirements were simple: an unobstructed view of a changing landscape, however dull, and freedom from the breath of other passengers, their body warmth, sandwiches and limbs.
it's been a slow start to the new year. the best kind. very slow. i've been lounging in the sun. and then reading, sleeping, traveling, camping and collecting. and i'd like to go back there. please. Oh summer, how i adore you. can't we be together a little longer? just you and i.