Winter Morning Ritual

The kitchen is dark except for the flame
from a stovetop’s gas ring.
That copper kettle, old as our marriage,
spouts steam with a wheeze.
I lift it when the water’s clamorous roil
begins to fog an outside view.
A tea ball, filled with English Breakfast,
rests in a cherished mug.
After decades of use, stainless steel and
orange ceramic have browned.
Like a smoker’s nicotine-stained fingers,
neither can be scrubbed clean.
When first splashed, contained leaves bob
and rise with their fragrance.
Then sinking, only the aroma remains as
the flavor gradually steeps.
A daily ritual accomplished in the dark,
I cradle the cup for warmth.
Forgoing milk and sugar, its bitter jolt
is what morning requires.
Anticipation always sweetens the taste
when awaiting tea to cool.

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