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Another Tea Ceremony

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I wasn’t sure he would come.

It rains.

It’s not cold outside in the open air. Air?

I had looked ahead at the open road bathed in a pall of yellow smog. Thick, itchy in the eyes, smog. The city is an abundance of plants, some are alive. Out here, on the eight lane motorway green isn’t green. Each leaf, tendril, frond, whispering grass weighed down, dusty, choking breathless already fossiled weighted under grey sediment into a present antiquity. Chengdu.

In the vehicle there is air – oxygen? Outside? The vehicle ploughs its furrow through the thick air.

I arrive.

I am shown inside.

I am shown outside.

There is no one here. Just me.

In the garden.

It rains. Gentle rain. Rain you don’t know is there until you’re drenched to the bone. Bone? Quiet. Birds sing. Water drips. Sky grey. But somehow bright. Air, clear. Upon the lawn a square of tables, chairs, precisely placed as a border to a chess board. Black and red. No games here.

Grass blades short, coiffured. There is peace. It is beautiful.

Bamboo. Slivers, razors cutting the gentle breeze as water drips. Bamboo shivers, shakes, whispers of eternity. Nothing changes here. Just mortal passing.

I wait.

He isn’t here.

A noise. I turn. It isn’t him.

A woman carries a white flask. She indicates a chair. I sit. The chair is wet. There are three teapots. She fills each teapot with hot water from the white flask. She smiles – she has no English. I am silent. I look left and right. He isn’t here. She smiles. She leaves.

I am alone.

Bamboo whispers. Birds sing. The grass under my feet doesn’t move. I watch it. Such green. So many greens. The table doesn’t move. Its legs nestle. The other chairs are empty. Wet.

I pour the tea into six translucent white tea bowls. Two gold. Two green. Two black. For choice.

I breathe. Sit still. Wait. Soon.

I look up. He’s here.

I stand. He knows. I know.

I lift a chair and set it down across the table from my chair.

Go first, I say.

He smiles.


My turn.


His turn.

He laughs. Stands. Turns. Walks away.

No, I say.

He turns. Stands still. Chest out. Defiant.

I’m sorry, I say, that it had to end this way.

He smiles.

It’s always loud, that bang.

Birds panic. Flee the bamboo.

I drink the green tea.

He lies still.

I check.

He lies. Still.

I walk away.

It rains.

Birds return.

Bamboo grows. Silent.

I walk away.

I wasn’t sure he would come.

I had no joy in it.

But it was done.

A contract is a contract after all.


© Phil Cosker 2014

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