By Kelly McElroy

I may never be able to scrub off

This adolescent coffee haze.

It clings to my hair

And sits in the gaps between my fingers,

No match for shampoo or simple hand soap.

I refuse to leave behind the bells

That sound while the door swings open,

Or the scream of the steaming wand

As too much air rushes into the milk.

Espresso grinds hang onto me

Like grains of sand on wet skin,

Embedded under my clipped fingernails

As if they’ve become a part of me.

My jeans are stained brown.

My hands are stained brown.

My favorite white sneakers are stained brown.

A picture of too much scalding hot coffee

Spilled and splattered over the years.

Each summer I come crawling back.

Back to the easy conversation

Across the counter,

The meaningless talk of weather,

The fishermen sipping their black coffee

And complaining of the tide.

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