love is a place
& through this place of
(with brightness of peace)
yes is a world
& in this world of
– e. e. cummings
For a birthday gift once, someone I love gave me a beautiful glass teaposy. He placed a piece of naturally curled birch bark from the woods around the handle, and wrote this poem on it in ink. Since the poem on this natural scroll curls in, the only visible part reads “(skillfully curled) all worlds,” which is perfect.
Although I’ve had this gift for a couple of years, traveling and living in small quarters has kept it unused on a shelf. Having just moved into a new home, I recently used this gorgeous glass pot with its own filter at the spout for the first time. I brewed tea a friend had sent me (I have wonderful friends indeed!) from a local spice shop in Philadelphia. She mailed me loose-leaf peppermint tea along with seasonal wildflower honey. The perfect glass tea pot magnified the tea’s beauty – while it steeped, it looked like a whole world of its own amber. Or perhaps silt at the bottom of a beautiful river that sunlight makes translucent, or plants one sees in a lake, but would never dream of transforming into tea. I held the glass by the handle and turned it at all different angles under light to see the peppermint tea magnified, some settling at the bottom and other pieces floating through this swollen amber light that appeared as if – were they not contained – would seep as sunlight all across the room.
I didn’t set a timer for the tea to steep. Instead I decided to interpret its readiness by the color of the liquid through the glass. When it reached a hue I thought dark enough, I poured it into a cup. The spout poured so perfectly! I added some wildflower honey to the tea and stirred.
The first sip was full of rich wonder. The peppermint tasted slightly smoky, subtle yet deep at the same time. The honey settled in and drew out the sweetness of the flowers it came from while the peppermint left my tongue slightly tingly after each taste. I could not help exclaiming (to the one who had gifted me the birch bark ringed teaposy) after each sip how incredible the tea was.
I also cannot help but reflect on the perfection that this poem – one of my favorites – brings curled around the glass handle. Every tea comes from its own world and is sipped in a moment of our own world(s). The first time I used it, I drank tea not only from Philadelphia, but from the world of friendship I have with the woman who mailed it. As I drank the peppermint tea she had sent to soothe my stomach, I wrote her a letter in my mind about how I would describe my experience of its delightful depth and comfort. The wildflower honey, too, represents a mixture of worlds put together and I could taste the flowers that grow wild where my friend lives. In our new home, I was able to share this tea with the person who gifted me an object which magnifies this poem’s beauty. Love is a place, and through this place, moves all places.