Leveler Poetry Journal
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Tea

 

No longer are you surprised with me

when you wake up to the sound of a whistling teakettle,

and how it was no different when we camped beside Lake Michigan.

 

I boiled water in still lit embers from the campfire the night before,

and watched as you stretched as wide as that morning’s horizon,

lying on that sleeping bag as if it were the great lake’s offing.

 

When you came out of the tent, I offered you tea

as your hair spread across your chest like fog

coming inland by way of an eastward wind.

 

You said you were cold, so I began to fold my body on yours,

the way the steam from the teacup rose up and through the fog;

right then, your hair was unusually thick.




Korey Hurni

levelheaded: Tea

 

Like the ritual of sharing tea, Korey Hurni’s poem is simple, delicate, and deliberate. Hurni pays special attention to the line as a unit of measurement. Each line, when looked at closely, offers insight into the speaker’s relationships with the poem’s “you” and the world.

 

No longer are you surprised with me

This line speaks to the mundanity of sipping tea and to the boredom of being in a long-term relationship. It also calls to mind the comfort found in small pleasures, as well as the peace that accompanies being known and accepted.

 

when you wake up to the sound of a whistling teakettle,

Damn, people can be annoying. The thought of this sound in the morning is kind of cute though. After all, the speaker’s not smashing beer bottles. If this is the speaker’s great flaw, how bad can they be?

 

and how it was no different when we camped beside Lake Michigan.

Damn, people rarely change. Maybe that’s bad. Maybe it’s not. Camping on Lake Michigan sounds nice.

 

I boiled water in still lit embers from the campfire the night before,

Here we get an acknowledgement of the past’s imprint on the present. The choice of “embers” instead of “fire” softens the tone. We’re in a safe place with seemingly sweet people.

 

and watched as you stretched as wide as that morning’s horizon,

“You” is established as vastly important, stretching out across the speaker’s world.

 

lying on that sleeping bag as if it were the great lake’s offing.

A sleeping bag likened to a lake: the mundane is made miraculous by the presence of “you.”

 

When you came out of the tent, I offered you tea

Hurni helps us see the beauty in the ordinary (waking, greeting the world, revealing oneself) and in small acts of kindness (“I offered you tea”).

 

as your hair spread across your chest like fog

Hurni helps us see the beauty in a body. He also points to the mystery. The phrase “you stretched as wide as that morning’s horizon” and the comparison of a sleeping bag to “the great lake’s offing” earlier imply distance. That same distance is echoed in the word “fog.” As well as these two know one another, as comfortable as they are together, there is still room for discovery.

 

coming inland by way of an eastward wind.

Those moments of discovery sweep in naturally, wonderfully, like a breeze.

 

You said you were cold, so I began to fold my body on yours,

Again, simple and beautiful. Need and fulfillment. Body finding body.

 

the way the steam from the teacup rose up and through the fog;

How natural these two seem together! What they have made cuts through and merges with the world around them. It offers clarity without being a disturbance.

 

right then, your hair was unusually thick.

This is a love poem. Wait. Reading it again, maybe it’s a break up poem. Here’s to discovery.

 

 

– The Editors