Chai Tea, Raw Sugar
By James R. Whitley

Even during the good times--fruit devoured
willingly from the other’s palm, long showers
and longer baths together--there was always

that entitled fussiness about you, that
I’m-going-to-be-difficult-just-because attitude
that I first secretly envied, admired, then

could barely tolerate. How you would wear
nothing pastel during the summer months--
Too pedestrian, you said. And then your

agnostic refusal to acknowledge anyone
uttering “God” while speaking with you,
how you would eat only oat bran cereals

for breakfast--I foolishly thought this had
something to do with loyalty. Even at your
most casual, you insisted on complicating

matters. Like during tea time, how the water
was to be hot but not boiling, how the particular
tea was to be loose, never bagged, how you

would only accept unprocessed turbinado
sugar for sweetening as you carelessly flicked
away the stubborn cruller crumbs (never donut)

from your prissy thumb and forefinger with
a linen napkin (never paper). And, because,
you said, darkness is the true home of the soul,

how any mug or spoon allowed to touch
your lips had to be deep blue, gray or black--
your favorite colors reflecting, perfectly,

in saturation and hue, those left in your wake.