Nine Spice Mix
By Zeina Azzam
First they tango on my tongue,
nimble couples careening,
form an Arab-style line dance
stepping, stomping, swaying.
West Indies allspice dazzles,
berries tangling with cinnamon sticks,
while cloves, Indonesian natives,
lead with a spirited solidarity solo.
Coriander seeds offer greetings in Hindi
as others toast comrades in languages
beyond borders and blockades.
Lifting up sisterhood, sun-wizened nutmeg
starts a sibling dance with mace.
Cumin demurs, then surprises
with subtle exultation.
Queen of spices cardamom,
host of the party, gives a nod to flavors
in hiding: lemony, sweet, warm,
fragrant, nutty, pungent, hot.
Encouraged, feisty black peppercorns
shimmy center stage, organizing
the unique union of nine
for a vivacious global salute.