The teacup bears the scars of a collision with a much larger gaiwan, a trauma it was never going to recover from.
I could have drunk around the chip, but the hairline crack weeps hot, slightly bitter, tea-tears.
I can’t bring myself to throw the cup away. As strange as it seems, it feels as though I would be abandoning the memory of all the tea sessions I’ve had with that cup.
The leaves look so fresh and green you would swear blind that they were plucked from the bush moments ago, but they are spent, the goodness and flavour they contained gradually transferred to the water in which they were steeped during the last hour and a half.
They’ve given me everything they had, and I am so grateful for their sacrifice.
I know what I have to do to complete the session, but I can’t bring myself to do it, not just yet.
Scraping them from the gaiwan with a bamboo spatula seems so final, so definite, so I leave them there for a while longer, gazing at them, at their effortless, elegant perfection, until the spell is broken.
There can be no true beauty without decay.