Lauren Berry

Guilt and Black Coffee

I still don’t know what I did wrong, but out of the mouth of the stainless contraption
came black water, creeping along the unstained hardwoods where we had just

buttoned our white shirts and stood up. The water rose. I questioned how much
I had even poured into its silver cavern; the grounds were aromatic and distracting

and I was drained. I had welcomed its hush of black sand, impossible to count, so much
like the desert of my home, but I tell you now, water overflowed the machine, covered the floor

biblically with boiling water, I yelled Help, I don’t know how to stop it. The dark of it rose like
doubt, and it burnt my toes, my ankles, my knees, my thighs, my hip bones—my breasts

were on fire, the water never lightened, never cooled, I said, I am going to drown here.
And from the stairwell he said, Just leave it. My wife will fix it when she returns.

Lauren Berry received a BA in creative writing from Florida State University and an MFA from the University of Houston, where she served as poetry editor for Gulf Coast. Her first collection, The Lifting Dress, was selected by Terrance Hayes to win the National Poetry Series and was released by Penguin in 2011.