Wednesday, January 26, 2011


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.