Desmond’s Tea Break

by Edward O’Dwyer

Desmond died in his bed
and so was extinguished a long, misspent life,
his conscience uncleared,
amends not made with his maker.

Now he is in Hell,
where he condemned himself
in one abuse of time after another.

On his fifteen minute tea break
after a thousand mortal years of whipped labour,
he sips the smallest sips,
forcing himself.

The next thousand years await
and there are rumours the clock in the tea room
is rigged, and fifteen minutes there
is really only eleven.

His tea is bitter,
but there is no sugar — not in Hell.
There are strict rules about any kind of sweetness.

Satan, smirking, raises a milk jug,
asking Desmond if he’d like a little more,
and Desmond nods,
and Satan pours,

and Desmond thanks him
for the bubbling white liquid.
Satan starts to chuckle
as Desmond takes another pained sip.