It sometimes seems as absurd as sleep –
this forfeiting of control over one’s body.
This sacrifice of leaves every day,
as swiftly replaceable as bed linen.
And even more surprising,
its immediate filling-in,
like a waiter filling a half-empty glass.
The chorus in the tea estate before noon –
the sound of plucking, like cushions losing air,
leaves cryptic with moisture.
That susurration, as if water was an ornament,
like an anklet measuring distance with sound.
The razed heads of tea bushes –
the failure of comparisons: lawn? carpet?
Beak-like leaves sprouting, visible,
like a solitary chair in a bare room.
And the related curiosity –
why the mind likes to rest on flat surfaces.
The smell of tea leaves is an accent in your breath.
It wakes you up, bruises your memory,
like a hot wok wakes up oil.
You put your palm on the tea bush –
there is no theatre. It’s not a fireplace.
Saliva flaneurs inside your mouth.
You’re drinking with your nose,
and now with your fingers.
The pulse of leaves stains your mouth.
This bony aroma becomes your guide.
The inside of your mouth is a scar –
tea’s bitten it fondly, like a pet dog.
You leave like light, without warning.
The jeep vomits scales of smoke.
And you’re still surprised
by how articulate the tea leaves were.