Bird’s Tongue – by Yasmin Mariam Kloth

I have a memory of my mother
in the kitchen cooking her Shurbat Lisan Asfour—
Bird’s Tongue Soup, small
pasta grains like rice
like lean bodies laying
in the sand, laying
in a boiling broth.
From my place
in the room across the way
I could smell the lime
she squeezed into the liquid,
my small body protector
to a potted plant with pink buds.
I couldn’t help myself, buds
too round and full and soft.
First one, just one from the stem
I told myself, plant rustling leaves
as I dropped its bud body
lightly in the soil.
I heard my mother call my name.
I heard her cross the room.
Another in the soil.
I saw her figure above me
like a shadow or a dream.
Her reprimand came in French first
then Arabic. She wanted answers
for my actions and her now naked
plant. How could I explain?
I wanted to know touch, hold
soft skin in my young hands, smell
salt from new soup roiling, loom
a dream high and bright
above another life.

Yasmin Mariam Kloth writes creative nonfiction and poetry. Her writing scratches at love, loss, place and space, with a focus on exploring her Middle Eastern heritage. Her work has appeared in Gravel, West Texas Literary Review, JuxtaProse, O:JA&L, and Willawaw Journal. Yasmin lives in Cincinnati, OH with her husband and young daughter.

Painting: “Paths to Redemption”
Artist: Henry L. Jones
2019 – 16×20 inches – mixed media on canvas