The  Salep  and the Spice                                                       by Clara Rabbani 

A woman  
in a burka  
lifts her veil  
to taste  
the salep  
and the spice.  
   
To savor  
orchids that  
bloomed in winter  
when the veil  
hid her frost-bitten  
cheeks from  
the stinging wind.  
   
In spring,  
she dreamt of  
saffron.  
Blossoms that  
reminded her of bruised  
fingertips.  
   
Palms turned  
upwards in the rain.  
   
She wipes away  
the dew,  
and is met  
by the fragrance  
of roses.  
   
They whisper to her  
from the  
unlikeliest of places.  
   
So she lifts her veil  
once more,  
to taste the salep  
and the spice.  
   
Oh,  
Turkish Dondurma,  
Syrian Booza,  
Woman of the world.  

Clara Rabbani is currently a senior in high school at Pembroke Hill. In the fall, she will be attending the University of Chicago to study Anthropology. Her poetry mainly explores cultural identity, specifically her Iranian and Brazilian heritage, as well as issues related to social and environmental justice.   

Editor-in-Chief Laura Lee Washburn is the Director of Creative Writing at Pittsburg State University in Kansas, and the author of This Good Warm Place: 10th Anniversary Expanded Edition (March Street) and Watching the Contortionists (Palanquin Chapbook Prize).  Her poetry has appeared in such journals asTheNewVerse.News, Carolina Quarterly, Ninth Letter, The Sun, and Valparaiso Review.  Harbor Review’s microchap prize is named in her honor.   

2 thoughts on “The  Salep  and the Spice                                                       by Clara Rabbani 

  1. Clara, your poem served as an invitation to “sip” and “explore” words that I wasn’t previously familiar with. I now understand that Turkish ice cream, because of the inclusion of salep, doesn’t easily melt. It seemed like a perfect metaphor for the woman who herself is resilient to weather and everything that she meets on her life’s path.

    Beautiful lyrical work written by one so young.

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