mother tea | Teen Ink

mother tea

December 20, 2018
By jl637 DIAMOND, Livingston, New Jersey
jl637 DIAMOND, Livingston, New Jersey
72 articles 0 photos 16 comments

my mother drinks only light.

we sit together on the terrace, a cup of oolong tea

in my cold hands, the bitter taste reminding me

of my mother’s third-world homeland. china, where the

red sun blistered against her aching neck,

her malnourished limbs bent over the vast fields

of a tea plantation. her boss’s voice was

a haunted anthem that sounded like death;

at the thunder of his footsteps, my mother’s body would

hunch into itself on instinct, the map of scars on her back

telling the story of his whips, his threats which often ended

in blood. it was the darkest time of her life,

when even the sun was a cruel thief

              that stole the livelihood from her lungs.

my mother, who was the first home i ever knew,

winces now at the smell of burning tea leaves

but is silent when i ask her why.

the same woman who, after her parents died,

walked hundreds of miles in search of a job,

the palms of her feet grooved like the yangtze.

who cultivated tea until her knuckles bled raw

so that even if she starved,

her siblings never would.

i cling to her now the way her siblings once did,

the way flowers cling to rain –

her arms the safest haven.

and her kisses, gentle as summer wind,

the sweetest thing I have ever tasted.

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