When my father died, I bought a box of tea.
Some of us, I guess, have to drink our Kaddish.
Steven, he had said one visit, in his dad
to grown son, granddad to small kids phase of life,
Steven, he said, you don’t have to buy the good tea
just for me. For him the good tea was Liptons.
The store brand’s fine, he insisted, and maybe it was
but it was not what I bought for my father.
Liptons, yellow and red with Sir Lipton himself
like Chef Boyardee on the label was all I once knew of tea.
We live in unquestioned assumptions. I knew enough
not to serve him Aged Tieguanyin or the Lincang Shou,
sourced from ancient groves on secluded mountains
where master craftsman use traditional laborious artisanal techniques,
my snob tea, shipped in small tins west coast to Boston.
I bought him what I thought he’d like. We live
in unquestioned assumptions. But for eleven months,
I drank my father’s Lipton, the tea of affliction
my wife named it, but it wasn’t the tea that was bitter.
I finished the box, teabag by teabag, letting him go.
Steven Goldman is a writer and teacher who lives in Boston, Massachusetts. He is the author of two books; the YA novel Two Parties, One Tux, and a Short Film About the Grapes of Wrath and the essay collection Four Square and the Politics of Sixth Grade Lunch. His work has appeared in a number of literary and professional magazines including The Jewish Literary Journal, Edutopia, and Nimrod.