Monsoon Coffee

by Ashini J. Desai

They sent the coffee beans upon

the ships that held the nutmeg,

cloves and dried peppers,

leaving the Malabar monsoons for

the Atlantic winters.

They stored the red and green

berries in the cedar barrels.

For more than six months, the ships sailed.

When they lifted the lids, the cherries

had become clammy, tossed

in the humidity.

The beans were dark

and damp.

The coffee held the scent of its travel.

It had been embraced

by the wood, the ocean and spices.

Like the men that rode upon the waves,

the berries released all they held

that made them bitter.

The weight of families, debts and

the land were left behind,

but always carried aboard.

The ocean breezes blew

their stories into the sails.

The sun beat down on their

bodies, darkening

The lean muscles on their backs,

Coaxing the sweat of their bodies

into the air.

The flavor of the brew was unlike any other.


A full body that swirled with muted notes

A subtle statement, a signature of the cloves

and songs on the ships.