The coffee mug that was never filled

A mug sits on the kitchen table, vacant, empty

unlike the mugs that have been chosen

to be filled daily with rich, warm, sweet coffee.

But this mug has not been chosen as the daily cup,

nor am I certain it ever will be.

I walk into the kitchen,

the floor is cold like the first day of


that feeling where all you can feel

is a sting from the cold, untouched

hardwood floors —

and when I see the empty mug

its lips, filled to the brim,

not with coffee,

but with empty space —

I know it’s empty for a reason;

my heart stings with a chill

because I know why that mug is there.

Two weeks before I left,

I walked into the store,

under the impression that

I would leave you with a reminder of me;

and I let the mug sit neatly in the box,

that box I asked the cashier specifically for

instead of “just a plain paper bag.”

And when she asked, me, “do you want a sticker?”

I jumped and said yes,

(Everything is better with a sticker)

I remember picking out that mug,

and choosing the one with multiple countries’ names

Wrapped around the body,

because a sense of adventure

and discovering new places

lived so freely in your heart.

So I planned on taking this mug,

sheltered inside its box

out of the bag.

I would hide it below the table we would meet at for the last time,

So you wouldn’t suspect anything,

And then, I would place the box into my hands,

Where it would lie

For the last time.

I would have presented it you

in our last moment together.

But days before we last met,

I learned that maybe your heart

Was now placed somewhere new,

That perhaps someone else

Filled that sense of vacancy for you,

And that I no longer played any role

In the fluttering of its beat

The space in my heart began to crumble

and I felt distance between us

beginning to expand,

Like ocean rifts between continents

And we, two masses of land

Were slowly breaking apart.

So one week later,

when we met over a cup of tea in a quaint restaurant

where the sounds of water

from a koi pond

trickled through the evening,

you stopped in conversation

and said to me, “I got you something.”

You joked that it was a stolen library book.

I believed it for a second

after all, I am gullible.

But instead, from the book, you pulled out a ‘make-your-own origami.’

And the origami shape?

Was the shape of a dog, a corgi, that I told you was my favorite kind of dog.

My heart beamed with all those:

butterflies, caterpillars, insects you name it

but then I had to swallow them– 

reminding myself of the reason I left the mug

unfilled with coffee in a brown cardboard box

still sitting at home on the table,

untouched —


I could not allow myself to hurt like this.

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