Morning Habits

By Toti O’Brien

Inspiration is brewed during the night—no, I mean the early morning, before dawn or a bit after, when the light starts sneaking in. There is nothing sublime about it. It is methodical, unavoidable. It is coffee percolating—a circumscribed slow motion among sleepy stillness. Water drips down, imbibes the dark powder, spitting thick and blackish liquor. The old electric machine is on a timer. It starts off as if endowed with a mind of its own, although I have set it the night before. As I wake, I am met by the comforting smell.

Inspiration doesn’t drip down. It erupts without drama in a contained, domestic fashion. It’s a small moka pot. Water rises from below due to impellent necessity. Heated by fire, it bubbles, expands, makes its way toward freedom. Mute grounds—a mound of dirt piled up as an obstacle—hinder its flight. Good morning! Water meets coffee. The two mix and mingle.

Something strange, something marvelous occurs in the time before, during, and immediately after dawn. The inert matter of my life—events, memories, a grayish stack of trivia—liquefies. It becomes molten lava—a cascade soaking my body and my brain. I’m not scared. I dive in. I swim. In fact, I sit up, pull my hair off my face, shuffle barefoot into the kitchen with nostrils wide open. My cup is never far. I pour, I drink, I write.