And coffee, for one who knows it as I do, means making it with your own hands and not having it come to you on a tray, because the bringer of the tray is also the bearer of talk, and the first coffee, the virgin of the silent morning, is spoiled by the first words. Dawn, my dawn, is antithetical to chatter. The aroma of coffee can absorb sounds and will go rancid, even if these sounds are nothing more than a gentle “Good morning!”

Coffee is the morning silence, early and unhurried, the only silence in which you can be at peace with self and things, creative, standing alone with some water that you reach for in lazy solitude and pour into a small copper pot with a mysterious shine—yellow turning to brown—that you place over a low fire. Oh, that it were a wood fire!

Stand back from the fire a little and observe a street that has been rising to search for its bread ever since the ape disentangled himself from the trees and walked on two feet. A street borne along on carts loaded with fruits and vegetables, and vendors’ cries notable for faint praise that turns produce into a mere attribute of price. Stand back a little and breathe air sent by the cool night. Then return to your low fire—If only it were a wood fire!—and watch with love and patience the contact between the two elements, fire colored green and blue and water roiling and breathing out tiny white granules that turn into a fine film and grow. Slowly they expand, then quickly swell into bubbles that grow bigger and bigger, and break. Swelling and breaking, they’re thirsty and ready to swallow two spoonfuls of coarse sugar, which no sooner penetrates than the bubbles calm down to a quiet hiss, only to sizzle again in a cry for a substance that is none other than the coffee itself—a flashy rooster of aroma and Eastern masculinity.

Remove the pot from the low fire to carry on the dialogue of a hand, free of the smell of tobacco and ink, with its first creation, which as of this moment will determine the flavor of your day and the arc of your fortune: whether you’re to work or avoid contact with anyone for the day. What emerges from this first motion and its rhythm, from what shakes it out of a world of sleep rising from the previous day, and from whatever mystery it will uncover in you, will form the identity of your new day.

Because coffee, the first cup of coffee, is the mirror of the hand. And the hand that makes the coffee reveals the person that stirs it. Therefore, coffee is the public reading of the open book of the soul. And it is the enchantress that reveals whatever secrets the day will bring.

 Mahmoud Darwish, from Memory for Forgetfulness (University of California Press, 1990)

Poem Source: The Journey Of Words. Image Source: Melanie Defazio via Coffee-Coffee


  1. elise mazzetti says:

    I loved that! It makes the act of making a cup of coffee a mystical experience!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. So evocative–I love how he paints the picture. He had me pining for that wood fire as well….every sense engaged. I’m off to pour a second cup! 😊

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Finer Things in Life says:

    Reblogged this on Lavender Reflections.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m off to grab a cup and re-read this. What a mindful way to start the day.
    Val x

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Reblogged this on Writing Out Loud and commented:
    Oh no, another book to buy!! Excellent!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This is very pretty, but not my experience of coffee. My coffee is a bridge from my inner to my outer world.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Reblogged this on On the Homefront and commented:
    I am reblogging this so I have it saved to savour over and over again–like a good cup of coffee…………..

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I’m going back for a second cup. Because you are SO right. I pour the cup, I sit and sit. I write my piece. And sip some more. The house is quiet, Garry still asleep. For these brief hours, it’s my world, mine along. Coffee makes it so 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Sorry, but I have to cut my comment short. I smell the coffee brewing! Got to run and get a cup.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. This is so beautiful! The words taste …like coffee.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Love Mahmoud Darwish’s poetry, thanks for sharing this, perfect for a Sunday morning as I make my own and remember the ritual of coffee making in Bethlehem.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. oh, yes

    Liked by 1 person

  13. oh I love this! Magical early morning first coffee… reblogging. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Reblogged this on Makere's Blog and commented:
    Magical, that first coffee of the day so carefully prepared and savoured.. it will never be mundane again.


  15. Reblogged this on wounds of exile.


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