By: Tara Ballard
She presses the package of coffee
into my palms. It is wrapped
in tissue, so others cannot see.
Min Suriyah, she tells me.
From Syria. Her hand flutters
against her chest, two heartbeats.
Zakee. Delicious. She brings fingers
to lips as if to taste. In a muddle
of two languages, I kiss my thanks.
She calls me friend. I call her
Known for beauty, her home is
and cool mornings,
The river in her city
rebels even now, as seventeen norias
witness the change in waters,
observe as they have for centuries:
turning, not turning,
in dry air.
The package sits on my kitchen counter.
For a moment, I linger, pause to take
in the gold-wrapped coffee,
Her two brothers who remain
are yet invisible. They sing
their years behind prison walls.
The other two see only
from photographs, declarations
black-tied to foreheads.
They kneel upon a stretch of dirt,
fingertips pressed tight against
They have her eyes.
I do not know
whether to keep the coffee
preserved, two hundred grams
from a country
dissolved of its people,
or simmer it atop the stove.