Author’s Note: I wrote “Lemon Ginger Tea” after spending a winter afternoon with my brother. We are both at really transitory moments in our lives and this felt especially true that day. Both our conversation and where we sat felt so indicative to me of both being in a liminal space together. In a lot of ways, I see the poem as being about brotherhood and being able to know someone’s life from that perspective. I use the “you” to try to convey that closeness to the reader so hopefully they can feel it too.
Lemon Ginger Tea
We sit in thread-bare red vinyl couches at deli’s front window.
It’s only four in the afternoon but outside the sky is already
tucking his knees into his chest.
Your last semester of college has just started
and I delight with you in that new beginning. Sometimes
I miss how each semester could give me
a whole new life. Take turns asking, “How are you?”
with more and more weight. Me: How have
you been sleeping? You: Do you like your job?
Me: Have you gone on a date with that girl?
You: I want to move to Germany but I know
I never will. Me: Where do you want to live?
You: Here I guess but it’s too expensive.
You eat your sesame bagel. I drink too-sweet ginger lemon tea—
ruined by my three yellow packets of over-sweetening.
The town outside is quiet. People parking beautiful cars
and their breath blooms from their lips. This has been
the coldest week of the year yet. I think of the word
“bitter” as you walk me to my car. The “bit” in that word
like the rows of wealthy people’s historic brick homes
that could close like teeth around any street.
In Bethlehem, historical markers populate the walkways.
“1801” and “1792” and “1845.” Remind me we are brothers.
I point at a house and I say, “Wouldn’t you love to live there?”
You say toward another, “And there too and there.”
Robin Gow is a trans and queer poet and young adult/middle-grade author from rural Pennsylvania. They are the author of Our Lady of Perpetual Degeneracy (Tolsun Books, 2020), the chapbook Honeysuckle (Finishing Line Press, 2019), and a young adult novel, A Million Quiet Revolutions (2022, with FSG). Gow’s poetry has recently been published in Poetry, New Delta Review, and Washington Square Review.
Over its 15-year history, Delmarva Review has published new literary prose and poetry from 490 authors from 42 states, the District of Columbia, and 16 foreign countries. Forty-six percent are from the Chesapeake and Delmarva region. Financial support comes from tax-deductible contributions and a grant from Talbot Arts with funds from the Maryland State Arts Council. Website: www.DelmarvaReview.org