On Tuesday, at Ethical ELA, we wrote a poem about “Seeing the Stranger” with Katrina Morris. I was really touched by the mentor poem “Self-Portrait With Woman On The Subway” by Hayan Charara, You can read it at the link above. It made me think of a regret I had a few months ago when I met Noor, whose name means light in Arabic.
On that rainy, windy day
We sat in the notary public office,
Waiting, all of us,
“Assalamu Alaikum,” my husband greeted.
“Alaikum Salaam,” her husband responded.
After more greetings,
and my husband’s Arabic was exhausted,
they switched to English and introductions, like
“We lived in Bahrain for eight years”
And “We’re Palestinian from Jordan.”
Her husband went on to ask if we missed bidets.
“Oh, yes,” my husband exclaimed,
“we had them installed the minute we moved back to the U.S.”
Noor sat quietly, eye averted, a bit shocked by the toilet talk.
But the topics changed,
and we all started passing time
We talked about sage in tea and sumac.
And where to shop for the foods they needed.
I shared a photo of my dear friend in Bahrain,
Who was also Palestinian from Jordan.
I showed some of the food she had served me,
And some of my attempts at making her recipes.
“I’ll cook for you,” she said.
They told us how Noor was a support teacher,
studying to try to pass the CBEST
so she could become a licensed teacher.
Then our notary came out, and we signed our paperwork.
Eventually, we left
while they were still waiting for another office,
We left with hearty goodbyes and nice-to-meet-yous,
But none of us made any attempt to stay in contact.
This young couple,
who lived only an hour from us.
this radiant light,
who had only been in this country for one year,
who may have needed language help,
who may have cooked for me.
I was the older woman, the white woman
who has lived here for seven decades.
Why didn’t I offer her my phone number?
On Wednesday we played with words with Denise Hill in a prompt called Metaphor Mumbo Jumbo Jam. I wrote some nonsense today about the following idioms written backwards: jam on the brakes, egg on your face, left in the cold, eat like a horse, sell like hotcakes, take a rain check, and like a cakewalk.
Brakes on the jam
Baby in a pram
Face on your egg
A girl named Meg
Cold in the left
Rock with a cleft
Horse like an eat
Ride on the street
Cakes hot like sell
What is that smell?
Check rain a take
Jump in the lake
Walk cake a like
Fly on your bike
I am participating in the March Slice of Life Challenge: A slice a day for all of March. Thank you, Two Writing Teachers!