A Prose Poem by Emily Wagner
I wonder what my coffee mug saw. It was left outside overnight, sitting politely on the porch railing facing the road, waiting to be remembered. It had been used last evening as a comfortable distraction, during a visit with a friend I had not seen for months, and when I did remember after a hasty clean up before putting my boys to bed that it had, in fact, been left there on the front porch, I was already on the verge of sleep myself, the rice bag positioned perfectly at my feet. The mug would have to wait until morning. So as I was walking out the door this morning to take my son to school, there it was, wettened by the morning drizzle, just where I had left it, of course. This particular mug has a cartoon image of me on it,looking a little bit like a character from The Simpsons, and I am sitting behind a large desk surrounded by books. It was a personalized gift from my teaching colleague and the very same friend I had been visiting with last evening when the change from my normal routine had me leaving things where they did not belong. I felt the twinge of guilt as I picked it up, for the rain looked a bit like tears. Then I quickly remembered that one should never, under any circumstances, make assumptions about others’ feelings. After all, instead of earnestly longing for the warmth the house provides, feeling uncomfortable about the coldness of night closing in, maybe my mug was exhilarated by the spreading coolness, the endless possibilities of being in a different place, new things to see and explore. This mug had certainly never been left outside overnight, despite its frequent use. Perhaps it ended up having a congenial conversation with the critter that is currently digging in our front mulch bed, or maybe it shared an untested joke with the Carolina wren that sings at 6 am while perched in our arborvitae. The wren did seem noticeably more jubilant than usual this morning, now that I think about it. As I washed the mug later in the morning, I noticed the image of me there now looked different, arms more forcefully crossed, brow most certainly furrowed and pointing down to a disgusted frown. And as I wiped it dry and turned toward the place where it belonged, in the cabinet next to the coffee filters and between the other mugs, it started to grumble under its breath. Then just as I began to turn it upside down into its usual position, it let fly a string of horrible profanity, causing me to step back in shock. I closed the cabinet door quickly to quell the all-out coffee mug revolt at its start, for who knows where else that could lead. But as I was turning toward the dining room, I felt a sense of obligation, and so I called back toward the kitchen,
I’m sorry, friend.
Emily Wagner teaches English at a public high school in rural central Pennsylvania and tries to share her love of poetry with her students by making it as accessible as possible. She lives with her husband and two sons.