Tuesday, May 18, 2010


Kajik the fortune teller owns a Persian restaurant
where the only thing on the menu is kabob.
You have to call and make sure he’s working,
that it’s not too busy, that he has time to see you.                  

I order two skewers, on lavash bread soggy with grease,
a yogurt drink with a hint of mint.
There’s a round belly under his apron, like a story hiding.
And underneath the aged circles of his eyes,
the sweetness of a six year old sucking on a candy
as if the entire Earth rested inside his warm mouth.

He doesn’t say a word to me, but brings coffee after my meal.
The dark, Turkish kind where futures leave footprints.
I drink fast as two wrinkled men play backgammon,
take half bites out of sugar cubes, sip on their tea.

“You’ve almost died twice,” Kajik says, finally sitting,
examining the designs inside the cup.
It’s an excavation of broken bones.
One of the old men snaps to a song in his head,
does a slow shimmy as he wins, knocks knocks on wood.

 “Be careful with the drinks,” he continues,
stops then, “show me your scars.”
I show him the one on my wrist,
from when I was twelve and tried to scare
my older brother by banging hard on his window,
the end of the thin, stitched line, where my vein begins.
“Stay in control or you will find bigger scars,” he adds,
then sighs like his heart is expanding with
my wrongdoings, the thought of death.

He twirls the cup in his fingers,
smiling as he finds more fossils of my future,
“You like to hurry love,” he says, “slowly, slowly.
Love is patience and you’re not there yet.
But yes, you will write something and everyone will read it,
don’t ever stop doing that.”

He takes my hand inside his own,
 “You will be fine,” he says, “ just fine.”
And even though it’s just left over
coffee in a cup, my mouth tastes bitter,
and the flies have begun to circle
the kitchen in the back, I believe him.

When I ask him why he doesn’t do this often he tells me,
“It hurts too much, seeing everything.
And one time I looked into a cup and it was empty.”


  1. I really love this piece Shideh.

    Out of curiosity, what are some of your favorite books?

  2. Thanks, Samer! I really love History of Love, Cry of the Peacock, and the poetry of Forugh Farokhzad.