Thursday, 1 October 2009

Tea break

I almost feel like apologising...I'm just writing so many poems at the's like a mania. Maybe it just is a mania. I suppose I should send them off tidily to competitions and magazines...but all that side of poetry just gets me down if I think about it too much! So instead, here it is for you gentle visitors. Remember yesterday we were talking about tea (and I took a line about tea - the drink - out of a poem)? Well, here's the don't-worry-the-tea-will-get-its-own-poem piece I was referring to in the comments. I hope you find it enjoyable and refreshing. Mug in the photo is model's own, by the way (my favourite morning vessel just now).

Best drink of the day

1. First blood

More than mother's milk
I remember Dad's tea
Brewed by magic elves
(Well, a teasmade)
It was good and sweet
And usually left by the bed
As he dozed for England
Quite dead to the world

The drink as I sipped it
Was adventure in a mouthful
Maturity and wisdom
All life in a taste
In the twilight mornings
In that big old room upstairs
There was little else to think about
We were animals in our den

2. Next generation

Tea, coffee, wine, beer
So much liquid under the bridge
Then finally some growing up to do

I was in labour for about a week
But at least at the finishing line
There was strong, proper tea for two

The cups were white, institutional
And we sat in shock, you and I
And drank her health for the first time

Today she's healthy still and growing
So far, at nine, she drinks nowt but water
But we know that can't go on forever

I see her as she watches us imbibe
The must-have clockwork tea in the morning
The desperate, snatched gulps in the afternoon

And I see her wonder, I'm quite sure
What secrets the special potion holds
What power's in the cup

RF 2009



Unknown said...

Oh yes, I remember the cup of tea they give in hospitals after giving birth. Here you also get toast, for some reason. As though that's enough to start becoming a mother on!

A Cuban In London said...

I loved the line 'dozed for England'. Beautiful poem.

Rachel Fox said...

I think I got toast too, Barbara, but it was the tea that I remember most.

Hi Cuban. I should point out that he was a very hardworking man - a GP/doctor in the days when it was one doctor to a surgery and you just had to see every patient yourself (evenings, weekends, in the middle of the night). It meant that when he could sleep - he slept a lot! There were other factors too but that was a big one.

I only put the 'England' in at the last minute. I never thought much about England before moving to Scotland but this year I have been thinking a lot about home and countries and nations and all that. I have lived in different places but my Dad was totally English. I don't think he ever lived anywhere else (but I might have to check that with others in the family).


hope said...

Tea...tis my Mom's thing. When I was a kid we had military neighbors; the wife was British and her parents, the Groves, lived with them. Grandma Groves loved my Mom because when Mom came to tea, she was delighted that Mom drank hers "the proper way".

I'm glad someone keeps all those tea merchants happy. And I loved that line about your Dad's deep sleep as well.

Rachel Fox said...

Of course the 'proper tea' is a joke too (a favourite joke of an old comrade...'proper tea is theft'....a play on the old anarchist slogan 'property is theft'...).

As for the Dad section...I am trying to write poems with him in that aren't sad. How am I doing?

I almost choked at the 'dead to the world' when it first popped out onto the page. Then I realised how right it was. Kind of eery though.


Niamh B said...

Give the poor child a cup of tea for god's sake!! I once helped at a holiday home for kids and we had the biggest pots (almost buckets) of the milkiest tea you've ever seen, came in two varieties too - sugar and no sugar...
Still really liked the reference to those after night out cups in the other poem. They're all beautiful poems tho, no need to apologise, it's a good mania!

Rachel Fox said...

Oh I'd let her drink tea if she wanted! She doesn't like any strong tastes though and won't drink juice or pop or anything. She manages a milkshake now and again but she really prefers water. It's cheap at least...

Glad you're enjoying the poems. It's school holidays here again as of tomorrow (2 weeks) and that always means less writing time so maybe I'll slow down a bit!


Rachel Fox said...

And I know what you mean...I still want to put the tea into the last line of 'Long night' somewhere. I'll leave it to stew for a bit and come back to it.

hope said...

I didn't think that reference to your Dad was sad at all. You portrayed him as fatigued...which you'd expect a doctor to be after working a long shift.

I'd say you're doing fine!

Rachel Fenton said...

I remember slinking around at the feet of wise old adults and listening to their conversation, and when they rested the mug at their feet, I'd sup the dregs and hope I'd stolen a little wisdom!

Regina said...

Tea is such a lovely and comforting drink... somehow living in Florida lo these many years, I've gotten out of the habit of drinking hot drinks, but I'm looking forward since moving to a colder clime starting up again...
I remember visiting with friends there in England and always enjoying a proper cup of tea... with a shortbread now and again.
Lovely poems, both!
I loved the first esp.- because of the focus on dad...

Rachel Fox said...

Thanks, Hope. Again.

I think we have quite a bit in common, Rachel! Where did you grow've not always been in NZ but were you in Scotland...England...Ireland?

RB - I think this poem is connected to your one of the other day. What was your line 'I would have taken anything'? A few mouthfuls of tea...


Jim Murdoch said...

My mother was a tea jenny and I know I drank a lot when I was young and then somewhere along the line - inexplicably - we all started drinking coffee. I drink both nowadays but coffee mainly - decaffeinated, black. The tea we drink is decaffeinated too actually.

Not a bad poem.

Rachel Fox said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rachel Fox said...

Too much caffeine makes me CRAZY these days. I have two cups of full strength tea (one am and one pm) and that's enough to keep me moving but not a danger to those around me!
p.s. poor typing above hence removal.

deemikay said...

Oh, it is a mania... is indeed.

Rachel Fox said...

Yes and that's only on two cups of tea a day. God knows what I'd be like if I still drank coffee regularly. Unbearable probably.

Andrea said...

I like this poem a lot! and I'm a serial tea drinker too, so I can identify with it :)

Rachel Fox said...

Thanks Andrea. We are the international (or transglobal...what do you prefer?)tea appreciation society!

Rachel Fox said...

And it's funny because when I first started reading poetry written recently (rather than just classics, if you like) I remember particularly hating all those 'coffee poems' (you know the ones - very moody things, usually talking about 'my lover'...and sometimes flowers and, quite often, a memory of Paris or Rome, possibly an international conflict thrown in for good measure). So I guess this is me finally saying 'tea and toast and Teesside!' Or something. The complete picture.


deemikay said...

Oh, no... I meant a mania in general. Not with you in particular. We're all manic. :)

Rachel Fox said...

Yes but some people do a better job of covering it up!

Kat Mortensen said...

This is a good'un, Rachel. I always marvel when I see kids on British t.v. drinking their tea at such a young age.
"At the finishing line..." That was a nice moment.
Nice mug too.

Rachel Fox said...

Hi Kat
The mug I got from TeaDirect - one of the main sellers of fairtrade tea here (and other things - the main brand is Cafedirect). I haven't been paid for this bit of was purely voluntary!
They were talking about fair trade at our girl's school today. She was amazed to learn how hard some people work for so little. So many lessons to learn...

Rachel Fox said...

And of course it looks like a finishing line but it's the starting blocks really!

Liz said...

Nice one, Rachel, like how it moved from episode to episode like a life told in cups of tea or something...and yes, I so love the cuppa tae, actually sometimes wake up real early just to get it (5 am ish)and my mum still sends us teabags stashed inside other weird things in the post, like inside pillow slips and
even an electric kettle once. ; )

Rachel Fox said...

I did think there might be more episodes in this poem, Liz, but then these two seemed to fit together and didn't seem to be asking for any more.
I'm not quite sure at what point I got so fussy about tea (and absolutely dependent on it...a little dependency but there all the same). I suppose it was when I gave everything else up.


Argent said...

Wow! I loved these two tea-related poems, little pick-me-ups in themselves. I'm a keen inbiber of "the healing bohea" myself. Both my parents were avid tea drinkers (although my mother, now in her 70s, has switched to coffee oddly) and we kids were raised on the stuff.

Dick said...

For me as a non-tea (or coffee) drinker, I'm identifying - as most of its readers won't be - with your 9-year-old so the poem carries principally a sense of mystery and the elusive.

Titus said...

My favourite drink and what a celebration of it!
L keeps on trying it, but can't quite develop the taste for it yet that he wants. J's not going near.

Totalfeckineejit said...

Ah,tea, best (non alcoholic) drink of the day.Best Poem too! :)

Rachel Fox said...

Here I am with my morning cuppa (and said Girl) and reading all these lovely comments (I'd type my cup runneth over but that would be one step too far...).

I don't know how many of you remember the TV ad for tea that gave the poem its title ('best drink of the day'). It's from years ago and it featured a scruffy looking guy in a bedsit making a cup of tea in the half light. I loved it and it was very un ad like (in the 70s?) - it wasn't clean and shiny and no-one was smiling. I looked for it on youtube but couldn't find it. I'm sure it must be around somewhere.


Rachel Fox said...

If you go here you can see two of the old tea commercials from the '70s (they're not for any brand - just for tea). The one I was thinking of comes on just after the 7 minute mark...and it's not really how I remember it (not nearly as scruffy). I don't remember the dog either. Maybe I added some details in dreams or something...maybe there was another ad...I seem to remember seeing it at the cinema (but that could be wrong too).


apprentice said...

I like the animals in our den line. GThere's something about tea in bed first thing. And Teasmades are about the only gadgets that actually work.

McGuire said...

Lovely poems Rachel. The 'coming-of-age-tea-cup'. Really captured your 'personal history of tea' and then you're own look at your children who must catch, consciously or otherwise, that their parents, like all adults, seem to love this brew, the elixir of life, but why?

Nice poem, niave wonderment, and simple satisfcation in a warm cup of tea.


Rachel Fox said...

Thanks Apprentice. I wasn't sure whether the animals line was out of place or not so I'm glad you picked it out. I know it's vague (some poets would have picked a specific animal) but it is intentionally so.

McGuire - always good to have you around my young friend! Glad you liked it. It's one of those that really just fell out more or less made. it were.


kimber said...

I love this poem.... here's why.

A few weeks back, my husband was rushed to the emergency ward. We arrived in the morning. The day was filled with uncertainty and pain. I sat at his bedside for hours, not eating, only crying, and without either of us noticing or caring, the sun set and night began.

A hand on my shoulder asked my attention, and a lovely elderly volunteer brought me a cup of tea.

I remember thinking at the time that the tea, and the show of kindness which it represented, was all I needed to get through the night.

It tasted beautiful. And your poem reminded me how much strength and kindness can be contained in one humble cup of tea.


Rachel Fox said...

Thanks K. I hope he's OK now.