The Tea and Sage Poem

By Fady Joudah b. 1971 Fady Joudah
At a desk made of glass,
In a glass walled-room
With red airport carpet,
An officer asked
My father for fingerprints,
And my father refused,
So another offered him tea
And he sipped it. The teacup
Template for fingerprints.
My father says, it was just
Hot water with a bag.
My father says, in his country,
Because the earth knows
The scent of history,
It gave the people sage.
I like my tea with sage
From my mother’s garden,
Next to the snapdragons
She calls fishmouths
Coming out for air. A remedy
For stomach pains she keeps
In the kitchen where
She always sings.
First, she is Hagar
Boiling water
Where tea is loosened.
Then she drops
In it a pinch of sage
And lets it sit a while.
She tells a story:
The groom arrives late
To his wedding
Wearing only one shoe.
The bride asks him
About the shoe. He tells her
He lost it while jumping
Over a house-wall.
Breaking away from soldiers.
She asks:
Tea with sage
Or tea with mint?
With sage, he says,
Sweet scent, bitter tongue.
She makes it, he drinks.

Fady Joudah, “The Tea and Sage Poem” from The Earth in the Attic. Copyright © 2008 by Fady Joudah. Reprinted by permission of Yale University Press.

Source: The Earth in the Attic (Yale University Press, 2008)

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Poet Fady Joudah b. 1971

POET’S REGION U.S., Southwestern

Subjects Activities, Eating & Drinking, Relationships, Family & Ancestors

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Fady  Joudah


Fady Joudah is a Palestinian American physician, poet, and translator. The son of Palestinian refugees, poet Fady Joudah was born in Austin, Texas, and grew up in Libya and Saudi Arabia. He was educated at the University of Georgia, the Medical College of Georgia, and the University of Texas.

Joudah’s debut collection of poetry, The Earth in the Attic (2008), won the 2007 Yale Series of Younger Poets competition and was a . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Activities, Eating & Drinking, Relationships, Family & Ancestors

POET’S REGION U.S., Southwestern

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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