By Chris Huntington

September 19, 2016


Many days I set a thermos of jasmine tea beside me on my desk. Jasmine tea is mostly water, perfumed by flowers. My thermos is stainless steel with metallic green paint and says L.L. Bean on one side, my name on the other. Above my name, there is a ring of exposed metal exactly the width of my fingers; this is where I lift the thermos to take a drink. Where I twist the lid open, the paint is worn away as if by a steel brush. My friend Jordan has practiced Shotokan karate almost every day for thirty years. It is beautiful to see him do kata. Jordan’s punch is the sound of one hand clapping. His sleeve snaps like a bullwhip. When I met Jordan twenty-five years ago, the threads of his black belt were already salty and grey. He had tied it and untied it so many times it had turned the color of surrender, of snow. Jordan wasn’t normally sentimental, but he hesitated to buy a new belt. In time, his new belt turned white, too. We become beginners again. I am forty-eight years old. I look at my thermos of tea. I am no fighter. I am a tea-drinker. Someone who stands too long at windows. I think impractical things. The ring of bare metal on my thermos is my black belt.

Photo courtesy of the author.

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Comments (13) - Post a Comment
Nice to read a prose meditation that doesn't follow conventions.
Scott at 8:57am EDT - September 19, 2016
Oh, beautiful.
Marilyn Bousquin at 9:37am EDT - September 19, 2016
Your words paint beautifully in my mind.
Lynda at 9:55am EDT - September 19, 2016
"His sleeve snaps like a bullwhip." and "Someone who stands too long at windows." Beautiful phrasing.
Susan Apel at 10:12am EDT - September 19, 2016
Love it. It's a poem to me.
Althea Besa at 10:39am EDT - September 19, 2016
So beautiful to read my way into Monday with this gem.
Ann at 10:45am EDT - September 19, 2016
The color of surrender...I'm no fighter. I'm a tea drinker.
Beautifully honest and great use of comparison.
Peggy Lamb at 10:49am EDT - September 19, 2016
this piece is discovery--each sentence taking me closer to meaning.
Colleen Warren at 12:31pm EDT - September 19, 2016
Inspiring, peaceful, accessible as the week begins. This & today's NYT easy dinner recipe makes me think life is doable. My idea of 12 Steps!
Lyra Halprin at 1:19pm EDT - September 19, 2016
I liked how I can understand what is going on this poem while I have no clue about most other poems. The tone seems very calm. I like how 2 different things are compared similarly giving a relaxing atmosphere? It's fantastic! I hope there can be a way for me to become good at English without reading so many books!
Sihun Sung at 5:40am EDT - September 20, 2016
I love this so much. The language, the layers in such a short piece. Thank you from one tea drinker to another. I was having a bad day, but now it's better.
Sue Fagalde Lick at 1:59pm EDT - September 23, 2016
so beautiful! thank you for inspiring me. just, wow
Mary A Gustafson at 7:48am EST - January 15, 2017
Of all the short pieces I have read recently, yours is the one that stays with me. The idea that we impractical souls can earn belts...how encouraging! Thank you.
Mary at 10:50am EST - February 16, 2017

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