Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Makroud el louse

I am participating in EthicalELA's September 5-Day Open Write

Today's inspiration was entitled "Tasting a Memory with Laura Shovan" and we were prompted to write a poem about a food memory.

I remember the celebration,
you returning from Algeria,
opening your suitcase,
setting the small muslin bag
at the center of the table.
How mesmerized I was,
unveiling the parchment paper within,
wrapped around
your mother's homemade
cookies shaped like diamonds.
A stream of Arabic ensued,
from all the guys,
your friends,
your countrymen,
as they clamored with delight,
at the sight of these treats.
So many hands reaching
at once, and
you, laughing, blocking,
not letting me taste,
until I successfully echoed you,
"Makroud el louse,"
my first attempts
met with teasing laughter.
At last, the delicacy,
almond and orange,
soaked in powdered sugar
melting in my mouth.
How long did I sit invisibly
alongside you and your friends,
in that Arabic fog,
picking at the remnants,
the delicious crumbs?
I saw how sweet we had been,
now, empty and gone.
This was the first time I realized
you can be both fully present and
also hold
what was.

I received these comments on the Ethical ELA website:

This is beautiful. The image of hands teaching into the pile for the almond and orange sweets reminds me how humans have common desires. One of my favorite travel activities is tasking new candy and buy them as gifts for friends. Such a sweet memory. Thank you.


Susan O

Maureen, I really like this “taste” of Arabic culture. I sense in it a bit of making the woman invisible and it seems in your last words “I saw how sweet we had been, now, empty and gone” that this relationship has changed dramatically and you pick “at the remnants, the delicious crumbs” of memory.

gayle sands

Oh, Maureen. I saw how sweet we had been, now empty and gone. This struck a chord in me that I can’t even explain. Wow.

Laura Shovan

Maureen, I love how the opening of your poem expresses what a process it was to go through the suitcase, peel back the layers of wrapping, and reveal the treat inside.

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