Friday poem for coffee lovers: 'Espresso'

Although she normally collects poems about tea, Lorraine makes an exception for 'Espresso', a poem from Colette Bryce's Self-Portrait in the Dark.

I collect poems about tea but I’d gladly make a special exception and add this poem about coffee. I love the way the repeated sounds in the poem intertwine and mirror the bird building a nest. 

The 'miniscule bird / clinging to a twig' making a nest the size of an espresso cup is a bit pathetic, and the speaker of the poem implies they are being a bit pathetic waiting for a certain 'you' in a coffee shop, but with the last line, they let themselves off the hook. 

The poem also reminds me of two of my favourite Emily Dickinson poems, 'Hope is the thing with feathers' and 'I dreaded that first Robin, so'.

I don’t know if Dickinson was a tea or a coffee drinker...


A minuscule bird
clinging to a twig

is shredding a loop
of knotted string

to a fibre-fuzzy
mist in its bill,

a haze as soft
as cotton wool

with which to line
a nest no bigger

than this small cup
I lift to my lips

while I wait for you
in this little coffee shop

on the avenue,
for such is April.

Self-Portrait in the Dark

by Colette Bryce

Book cover for Self-Portrait in the Dark

The dark attunes our eyes to detail the light can sometimes conceal; similarly, Colette Bryce’s new poems are ‘slant tellings’ that reveal strange and true reflections. 

Using a wide range of imaginative strategies, Bryce examines the ways in which time is held, space enclosed – and a life framed and given meaning: a face in a broken mirror, a spider trapped under a glass, or a stolen kiss in a car-wash. 

Bryce’s two previous prize-winning collections were widely admired for their marvellously seductive music and their speed of thought; Self-Portrait in the Dark widens and deepens the poet’s scope, and is her most emotionally compelling collection to date.