There is a moment when drinking tea that the temperature is just right. Too soon after steeping and it scalds. Too late and the warmth, while pleasing, has lost the dimension that arises when heat is crossed with flavour to match your internal weather. It happens just before the steam returns to invisibility, when the colour is candescent chestnuts. Just after it tips past the point of being too hot to handle to where you hold the mug with both hands cupped around the sides. When sip progresses to swallow.
Once the mug is empty, if you are lucky, there is a window of time before you have to go, and you sit in the company of what fills as the cup drains. This is when you notice things like the way the light falls across the table, the way trees respond to the fingers of the wind, how the only hint of the river from this distance is a shimmer between the willow limbs. The way the outer heels of the of the waiter’s shoes have become slanted, ground at an angle as he walks through the days. Still water in a jug, still honey in a glass jar, a fan with motionless blades.
The window closes, the clock hands align and snap the edges off your reverie. You straighten your papers, close your book, cap your pen, and peer into the cold mug, offering thanks for what is present and what is absent.
What is Present, not precious?