At six o’clock we were waiting for coffee,
waiting for coffee and the charitable crumb
that was going to be served from a certain balcony
like kings of old, or like a miracle
It was still dark. One foot of the sun
steadied itself on a long ripple in the river

The first ferry of the day had just crossed the river
It was so cold we hoped that the coffee
would be very hot, seeing that the sun
was not going to warm us; and that the crumb
would be a loaf each, buttered, by a miracle
At seven a man stepped out on the balcony

He stood for a minute alone on the balcony
looking over our heads toward the river
A servant handed him the makings of a miracle
consisting of one lone cup of coffee
and one roll, which he proceeded to crumb
his head, so to speak, in the clouds—along with the sun

Was the man crazy? What under the sun
was he trying to do, up there on his balcony!
Each man received one rather hard crumb
which some flicked scornfully into the river
and, in a cup, one drop of the coffee
Some of us stood around, waiting for the miracle

I can tell what I saw next; it was not a miracle
A beautiful villa stood in the sun
and from its doors came the smell of hot coffee
In front, a baroque white plaster balcony
added by birds, who nest along the river
I saw it with one eye close to the crumb—

and galleries and marble chambers. My crumb
my mansion, made for me by a miracle,
through ages, by insects, birds, and the river
working the stone. Every day, in the sun,
at breakfast time I sit on my balcony
with my feet up, and drink gallons of coffee

We licked up the crumb and swallowed the coffee
A window across the river caught the sun
as if the miracle were working, on the wrong balcony

– Elizabeth Bishop (1911 – 1979)

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