The Tea and Sage Poem

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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