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Alone in Atlanta

Katie Coe

Brights lights

He sits alone at the small red table,

cold white tiles under his feet,

warm air heavy with garlic

but empty of people

Fresh spinach and plump roma tomatoes

swimming in a lake of slippery olive oil

and dark, sour vinegar

just the way Uncle taught him to make it

Warm flat bread

kneaded and pounded by his own bony hands

instead of by the strong, muscular ones of his son

Stuffed inside- bursting ripe tomatoes, crisp leafy lettuce

bought from the farmer’s market

instead of grown by his wife

in their backyard

loved and nourished

as she gently whispered Lebanese lullabies

from their childhood together in Beirut

Warm, tender gyro meat

sliced off the loaf

that is crammed in the tiny fridge;

Lamb, beef, mixed together as he stood alone

instead of behind his daughter

whose small fingers could not grind the meat enough

so he guided her

holding her precious hands in his

Cool tzatziki sauce drips:

fresh, watery cucumbers, sweet onions, and thick cream

carefully blended

with Popa’s spices tediously added-

thyme, oregano, basil, garlic, salt,

and his secret Cavender’s mix

that is still kept in the small green vial

but now in the crowded pantry

of his American apartment

instead of the wide open shelves

of the kitchen in Tripoli

The warm embrace of pita and gyro

the sweet explosions of fresh produce

and splashes of refreshing tzatziki

the acidic bite of vinegar and oil

overwhelm his tastebuds

and sends him back

to his lovely Aziza’s garden

to the tiny Shevna, playing at his feet and reaching for the mixing bowl

to Uncle and Popa’s kitchen

full of spices, oils, and vinegar,

and Zahle, with the dough.

The taste of Lebanon

takes him home

so wherever he travels

he is never really gone.

With the taste of home,

he is not alone.

Spring, 2017 Issue

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