saffron


Saffron by Amir Safi

My mother picks up the pestle and mortar and does to saffron what the clerics have done to her country/ pours in steaming water till the liquid in the bowl becomes the Caspian swallowing the sun/ it smells like a home I have not returned to in 10 years/ saffron/ pound for pound/ the most expensive spice in the world/ worth more in its weight than gold/ if customs found it, they would surely throw it away/ but my grandmother is a high stakes smuggler/ her currency is my mother’s joy/ every time she visits, she brings some in her luggage/ and my grandmother always comes through/ and my mother always becomes a festival of lights/ looks at my father/ reminds him that it is her saffron/ approaches me with the same enthusiasm I had as a boy catching a fish/ holds the small packet between her thumb and her index finger and says/ you cannot find saffron this good in America, Amir/ you cannot find saffron like this anywhere, but Iran/ and this is where I learn the limitations of the American dream/ that you cannot find here what you already have/ and I laugh because if customs found it they would surely throw it away/ and I laugh at how borders can make the most valued feel worthless/ but, thankfully, they were not victorious this time/ nor are they ever/ because my grandmother is a high stakes smuggler/ her currency is my mother’s joy/ and my grandmother always comes through/ and my mother loves to feed her boys/ so my mother does what Iranian mothers do best/ and we eat until the diaspora dissolves/ until it’s time for my brother and I to fight over who does the dishes/ my mother exclaiming to my grandmother/ these boys are American/ they never learned taarof/ I tried to teach them, but they learned all of their manners from their father.

Recent Posts