At the Coffee Shop on Rogers

By Robert Wood Lynn

When I was done I took my teacup
to the bussing station where the tub said No Trash
so I fished out the teabag but the only trashcan
had one of those blue liners so I couldn’t tell
if it was for recycling. I decided to throw
the teabag out in the garbage on the street
which meant carrying it there dripping
in my hand like a dead bird, one I didn’t kill
but still felt moved to bury—the barista saw
and asked me why, as if a reason was
another license I’d forgotten to renew.
Composting. I said I was desperate
for compost in my garden. Now
every morning she gives me handfuls
of spent teabags, the way the cat would
bring me offerings of dead birds
which seemed sweet until I read how
cats think we can’t take care of ourselves.
After being fitted for a hearing aid
my deaf friend was most surprised to find
sunlight didn’t hum, unsettled by how cats
could choose to move in silence. She became
obsessed with the sounds of birds: collective
at first then individual. Quiet only in repose
like these teabags I throw away on the street
and feel guilty I don’t have a garden. Not even
a balcony. The cat’s been dead for years.
It’s morning and my hands are soggy, I know,
for the stupidest reason. In spite of the evidence
I am getting good at being alone.

Robert Wood Lynn’s debut poetry collection Mothman Apologia (Yale University
Press, 2022) was selected by Rae Armantrout as the 2021 winner of the Yale
Younger Poets Prize. He holds a law degree from the University of Virginia and
teaches in the undergraduate creative writing program at New York University.
He lives in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley.

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