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Ode to the Percolator

"She was the one percolating, running long miles away from the house"

Published onApr 03, 2024
Ode to the Percolator

Photo by The Vintage Kitchen used by permission:

Ghosts gathered in the corner of the antique shop, 
pulsed around the old woman as her hand reached out, 
touched the glass knob of the percolator. 

Stains of long use rendered the top opaque. 
A caramel-colored memory flared 
as fingers connected with cool glass. 

As a young girl, she used to stare at it. 
Tried to capture the moment water became coffee. 
At that moment each day, nothing had gone wrong. 

No question if her mom would rise from bed. 
No screams erupting from the back bedroom. 
No need to hold down flailing arms, 

to keep her mom safe from herself. 
Not yet the ache of loneliness, 
the fickleness of her mom’s presence. 

Under pink and green tufts of her bedspread, 
the young girl heard the water spurt under heat, 
assurance he was still there. Steady. Safe. 

Her deep morning breaths sucked in the smell. 
All her senses awakened, still hopeful, 
as if fed the liquid through the air. 

Standing in the shop, the old woman’s vision 
tunneled once again. 
Her chest constricted 

as her memories walked into the cave 
of that back bedroom, 
touched the holes left within her, 

the cavity of the now missing father, 
his mind ghosted out. 

Over time, the percolator retired to the cupboard. 
Made way for the noise of the coffee grinder, 
three strong taps before grounds were tipped into the pot. 

By then she was a teenager. 
She was the one percolating, running long miles 
away from the house, up foothills, 

along avocado groves, past the turn 
into the farm, past the park and the church. 
Her legs: her escape. 

Her muscles lean and smooth  
carrying her away  
from chaos and restrictions 

into a world of her own making. 
Running farther and farther 
from those original four walls 

into her outdoor sanctuary, 
she found room for her voice, 
inhaled the fragrance of lemons, 

dust from the tractor among the trees, 
her mind moving unfettered 
among all her sunlit rooms. 

Finally, finding home 
within her own skin.  
Up through the eucalyptus grove, 

the bark peeling off in long strips, 
down the edge of the cliff 
with the long horizon of ocean stretching 

into the distance. The smell of salt water. 
For hours she rested under the coverage 
of Torrey pines, bent and twisted as well 

by coastal winds. She listened to the calming repetition 
of waves crashing. Soothing, 
like the spurting water of the percolator. 

Margaret Anne Kean received her BA in British/American Literature from Scripps College and her MFA from Antioch University/Los Angeles. Her debut chapbook collection, Cleaving the Clouds, was published by Kelsay Books in 2023. Her work has appeared in Eunoia Review, Anti-Heroin Chic, San Antonio Review, Drizzle Review, EcoTheo Review, Halcyon Days and Tupelo Quarterly. Kean lives in Pasadena, California.  

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