When I First Fell in Love

The fading topaz walls,

the pictures of flags and names scribbled by a four-year old girl,

attempting to make a new home hers.

I remember the busy streets with police sirens,

the high rusty gates of the abandoned garden.

The smell of cous-cous and mint tea,

perfuming the air.

The sweet humming of my mother’s voice filled our ears,

like Sirens playing to Homer in his journey back to Ithaca.

Take me back to Itaca.

Take me back to Brooklyn and Jersey City,

where my young spirit was like a delicate flower,

breaking through the impenetrable concrete sidewalks of merciless cities.

Take me back to my first ever poem that I wrote in Kindergarten for show and tell.

Take me back when I first fell in love with the way words,

caressed the crinkles on that cafeteria napkin.

The times I let the brilliance of my ballpoint pen escape.

Take me back to when I started my affair with language,

and possessed poetry as my mistress.

I am a poet from those brick buildings in Brooklyn,

a poet from the Saharan village on the outskirts of Oran,

a poet who still keeps flags and scribbled names

on her fading topaz walls,

that shadow her pharmacy textbooks,

and her emerald-green prayer rug.