Americans always have to Americanize everything.
THE WAY WORDS TASTE
It's the democratic process to flatten our vowels; all sounds
should be equal. I wasn't raised on chick pea spread.
My father, the Middle Eastern History professor, taught me
Chummus. Ch rolled in the back of my throat
like Channukah or L'Chayim! The rest of the word
a slow tang across the tongue.
Not broiled, mashed eggplant -- Babaganouj,
the last train rushing out of the station. Afraid
of those flavors, I made cucumber salad,
ate tabouli with the gusto the word deserves.
My father is in Cairo right now. Nine a.m.
here, maybe mid-afternoon, maybe evening there.
I see him sitting at one of those small tables, rickety
not well wiped off. He is reading Al-Ahram
in Arabic, struggling through it as always.
Grasping a a piece of pita, he dips,
lifts it to his mouth. Maybe, he stops
mid-bite, just as tahini and garlic
start to press through his pores. Maybe he stops and wonders
will I get his letter today, the one
that says he is never coming home.
Copyright 1994, Deborah Bacharach
Deborah Bacharach grew up in Seattle and is thrilled to have recently
returned home. Her work has appeared in Caprice, Sojourner and Poetrytonight.com,
among others. "The Way Words Taste" was previously published in Slipstream,
Switched-on Gutenberg/Vol. 4, No. 2