Spice Rack

I met my husband while serving in the Peace Corps.  This poem is a celebration of the blending of our cultures and the wonderful diversity it brought to our lives.


Spice Rack


America’s melting pot implies mélange.

Spice rack conjures up complexity:

The tongue distinguishing textures

And tastes – sweet, savory,

Pleasantly piquant.


We were raised differently--

You: Moroccan, Arabic-speaking, Moslem;

Me: American, English-speaking, Catholic,

But food and French bring us together

At the marche in Fez.


From the past, a memory surfaces…

Painted on a campus construction site:

“We’re the class of ’69—our desire’s to intertwine!”

Amidst the Badgers and Cheeseheads,

No matches for me.


My path leads elsewhere,

From Madison to Taza to wind-swept Essaouira.

Then, across the Straits of Gibraltar

To be joined by a British magistrate

Like John and Yoko.


So, what spices and flavors are we--?

Cayenne, cumin, coriander?

Cinnamon, saffron, ras-el-hanout?

Or the sweet culmination of

Our honeyed last name, El Assal?


From goats in the argan trees

To horned owls in the oaks,

We’ve savored life’s diversity

And the accented voices of family and friends

Add just the right spice. 

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“Sunset at the Railroad” by PCV Nicholas Baylor Hall. Namibia, 2011.