Academic journal article Michigan Quarterly Review

Saffron

Academic journal article Michigan Quarterly Review

Saffron

Article excerpt

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 its 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. …

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