|"Chip" Watercolor & Ink on Paper|
By J. Artemus Gordon
An empty stoneware coffee cup has a chip in it.
The chair is shabby, but the vinyl floor is clean.
The year resumes its journey toward the infinite;
the guy behind the counter leafs through a magazine.
there’s not much business at this time of day.
The faded chair is dirty, but the floor is clean.
Small black coffee, to go—he wishes she would stay.
A small black cat moved in; he hopes that she will stay
at least until the rains stop and the weather’s warm.
Customers come in more often later in the day.
Water streams down windows as they gaze out at the storm.
They sip their coffee slowly and stare out at the storm.
A white-striped green umbrella drips water on the floor.
The woman near the radiator moves closer to get warm.
Her worried eyes keep glancing toward the door.
The green-and-white umbrella left puddles on the floor.
In her purse is an old letter that her daughter sent.
Her pregnant daughter’s letter seemed to assent
to moving back home, bringing the baby with her.
She must have lost her courage after her lover was sent
back to prison. She was under the weather
with morning sickness; she must have wondered whether
it was easier just to turn on the gas and go to sleep
than to wait and wait, watching their lives wither,
easier to splint her limping strength enough to leap
over the wall between the two dark worlds,
falling from less than twenty years into the infinite
spin of stars spiraling like cream that swirls
into black coffee, in a cup that has a chip in it.