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Bitters

Poetry & Prose | October 10, 2017

bitters

Alexandra Benjamin

 

The other day

I began to wonder

if you were an acquired taste

like black coffee

and red wine

or sometimes both at once

 

I wonder because

it certainly took a year

of circumstance

and random chance

to circle back

and finally stop feeling like

the word re-try meant waste of time

those countless sips

reversed, rewind

 

I wonder if I could count

how many tastes it took

before the bitter tinge subsided,

before the receptors in my brain

learned need from like

and decided it was high time

to learn about organic pinot grapes

that live in steel bins

in Oregon

and fair-trade beans

ground gracefully in Guatemala.

 

It certainly wasn’t on the first swig

or the second

or the third

but it was few enough

to turn glasses into bottles

and savored cafecitos

into guzzled tumbler-fulls,

 

and one night stands

into standing arrangements,

as it happens.

 

It certainly was enough,

to make one wonder,

if taking time means compromise

or not quite right—

sophistication,

some call it.

Grown-up taste buds

who know that sometimes

it’s not about the instant bliss

of a brief but beautiful high,

its aftertaste a harsh reminder

of that first most-perfect try.

 

Insurgent as it is,

it only takes a few thousand hits

to find acquired still fits in;

you’re still addictive—

still as integral as blood,

to be just as deadly too,

a slow release

before the flood.