Deborah Bacharach 


Americans always have to Americanize everything. 
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, among others. "The Way Words Taste" was previously published in Slipstream, 1994. 

Switched-on Gutenberg/Vol. 4, No. 2