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 as TheNewVerse.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 ”
Impressive and moving work.
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.