Nothing more Fierce than my Safta in the park by Tamar Weir
cutting fruit with a knife.
She opened the flesh, it stayed juicy and ripe
An act she has memorized and harmonized
her movements synchronized
To the touch
Ritualistic in its offering
For the young lips, babies, and family unit
Wearing layers for the wind, covered up, covering neck
Protect that smooth loose skin from the airs unknowns
Feed the people
Peel back the skin, the rind and bring flavor in the form of
Big bites and liquid dripping on sticky
She knows, my Safta how to provide health and gold
through oil and rice and chicken in a pot.
She knows how to arrive; to get there, arms full, the weight of years of cooking and steel pots brimming with stewing herbs.
She traveled through airports, all the flavors in one vessel
Carried from far away lands, to the USA
where mountains are big,
street signs dont make sense,
and you can’t really look at people in the eyes.
She enriches the value, the health in ingredients, poured with love and drenched in her warmth.
I remember chicken. Big and bold.
I remember brushing my tangled hair, top to bottom.
I remember the old fashioned way, how you loosened my tooth, just like that.
I remember getting lost in the Yountville streets, going for a walk and then not knowing how to get back.
I remember the cheek kisses, aggressively pure
I remember her in the photos that are printed, in the books I search for and in my hands I hold.
She wore bangles thick and thin lining her arms.
Simple, gentle sounds when she moved
Where did she get them?
And are they ancestral?
A lovers present?
She never took them off, I remember that.
I remember seeing her in all my dreams, with those gold rings, and bangles, wrapping her warm.
The gold always remains.
I want to know you now, how you would move in circles in the kitchen, which recipes you would make for Taishan.
I want to see you talk, and sit on couches and sew dresses from cloth.
I want to be with you now, not in white hospital walls or in a pained body, but in the moment, walking together, getting lost.
I want to read you my poems, ask you names of streets, the smells of Persian spices, the way you heard them say it.
I want to hold your hand as we shop for the freshest roses, and dill, and talk to vendors, the farmers.
I want to be old with you, still, peaceful in the home polishing silver, feet up after a long day.
I want to read the tea leaves, show you my tattoo, read you the meaning, and hear your truth.
I want to see how you feel on this land, show you the mulberry trees we planted, the way they are growing.
The fruit that is coming.
I want you to taste the sweetness and tell me stories of home, where you ate fruit as a girl, and what did it taste like?
I want to wrap you up in my scarfs and show you my colors, the path I am following, the rhythm that moves me.
I am filled with love from the maternal love you bring, the way you said “nishama sheli” the mantra that remains.
I am ever in the awe, the wisdom that you knew, nourishment, crossed over borders, ocean, desert, and pain.
The language of food, you contained.
Tamar Weir was born and raised in Napa California, where she is currently cocreating a sustainable permaculture food forest. With a mixed family heritage, she identifies as a queer mixed woman, dedicated to narrating complex stories through words. Her work has been published in Twanas Magazine, and the Leviathan Jewish Journal. Her work centers around themes of family tradition, the web of cultural stories, and how they play into the present moment.