Coffee Shop Painting by Lisa M. Bradley

To begin,
she orders green jasmine tea,
a dark-roast Sumatra blend, black,
and three saucers.
At her table, she takes from her bag
a watercolor pad
and a narrow tin
of sable and blue squirrel brushes.
She paints in
concentrations of coffee
cut with water in her saucers.
She only drinks the tea
but she absorbs two pots’ worth
as her sepia scene expands.

A weasel sidewinds through weeds
in the muddy ditch behind our dumpster,
a limp little body
seized in canine teeth—
a doll, to my relief—
its floppy leg leaking tufts
that grow soggy in puddles,
puddles that double
the kudzu and cottonwoods
shading our café.

When she puts the page aside to dry
I note the eerie green pall
of the tornado-hinting sky,
inside her painting,
outside our windows.
She painted with the tea, after all,
and now orders a latte.
To go.

Lisa M. Bradley’s poetry has appeared in numerous venues, most recently Uncanny Magazine, Interfictions, and Nightmare Magazine. Her collection of short fiction and poetry, The Haunted Girl, is available from Aqueduct Press and other booksellers. An uprooted Tejana, Lisa lives in Iowa with her spouse, child, and two cats. She is currently working on a fantasy novel set on the Texas-Mexico border in the 1930s. Her website is You can also find her on Twitter, as @cafenowhere.

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