This Cup is Broken

I dropped my father’s cup today.

My dad died when I was eight. I would get up before him, make a breakfast of bagels or toast and chocolate milk, and watch cartoons. He would come downstairs and go for a run, come back, shower and make coffee. He’d drink it out of one of a few mugs, all of a similar size, and most of which I still have. He had good taste in art, and his mugs were handmade and hand-painted by local potters. They’re irreplaceable.

There’s an old story about a Zen monk who had a favorite cup. It was beautiful and prized, and he enjoyed showing it to temple visitors. He used it for everything, all the while saying out loud, “This cup is broken.” When at last he dropped the cup, he wasn’t surprised. He repeated, “This cup is broken.”

Today my grip faltered when I grabbed one of my father’s mugs. It fell, hit the rim of the sink, rolled, and fell to the ceramic tile floor. I knew what was going to happen. I said, in the quick voice that makes no sound and forms no words, “This cup is broken.”

It bounced, rolled, and was stopped by its handle. If anything it scratched the tile. I picked it up, and as I placed it in the cupboard, said, “This cup is broken.”

This Cup is Broken - April 6, 2018 - Jordan T. Thevenow-Harrison