Kate Stumpf

Alone in the morning
my thoughts are the only voices
accompanied by the tree branch’s tapping.
A splash of milk and spoon of sugar
and I set the mug to rest
on a little knitted square
because I can’t count the number of times
I’ve heard my parents say:
Use a coaster
Wipe the table
Scrub to make those rings go away.

Now in a city where no one knits
little squares meant only for mugs,
the price tags at the thrift store
seem to think each milky circle
mapping the stories of the table
signifies a decrease in worth.
When really the marks of condensation
remind me of the table next to the tree branch-tapped window
where as a child I couldn’t imagine
covering my placemat’s plastic colors
with the diameter of a cup.

I’ll use a coaster
and wipe the table
but not to make those rings go away.

Kate Stumpf is a senior studying chemical engineering. She highly recommends spontaneously enrolling in classes completely unrelated to one’s major (that’s how she ended up in poetry!)