If anyone asks about recurring themes in my writing, I put tea at the top of the list. Tea seems to spill into my writing as a motif or metaphor. It could be a lonely and exhausted tea bag, a biscuitty slurry, slimy chamomile or in this case an exotic blend that only women may drink… Tea, at least tea that writers make, is a token of something exchanged – it can be a highly personal gesture. You don’t have to read the tea leaves to know what is going on between the tea drinking parties. But in this case, the tea is blended for a woman’s needs, and her hubby doesn’t get a look-in. This poem appeared in the on-line magazine Babel Fruit in 2008. (Magazine now defunct).
I sip my ‘Women’s Tea’,
whilst my husband speaks on the phone
to a woman in Mumbai.
She tells him why
my car insurance costs more because of his accidents.
The tea is an Ayurvedic blend I got yesterday,
to help with my womanly balance.
It is because he is a named driver for your car; it would be much cheaper without him!
Another woman before told me this, clicking through screens
at layers of claims on his car insurance.
But he didn’t believe my account of it.
My husband gets cross when the woman in Mumbai
doesn’t quite get his accent
his flat way with vowels and sloppiness on tees that guarantees someone
will get his address wrong on the reply envelope.
He explains – he didn’t actually have an accident himself, of course.
Someone else was always to blame.
But a husband’s claim reflects in a wife’s insurance.
He tells the woman that is ridiculous; he drives my little car only when his is being repaired – just to get to work, of course.
My Women’s Tea contains angelica and cinnamon, liquorice root…
…dandelion and ginseng, coriander, barley malt.
My husband slams down the phone and looks at me as if it is my fault.
The Women’s Tea is hot and steamy; it puts a heavy, heady mist in front of my face.
He asks where is his tea? Can’t he have some of this?