Poetry by Tamer Mostafa

Cooking Lesson

On Fridays he smoked light cigarettes
with sugar soaked Turkish coffee
after prayer and asked me to dig out
skillets, pots, and saucepans for Koshari,
an Egyptian national dish. He would tug off
the white thobe, revealing
purple olive oil splattered scars splinted
across his dark brown puffed stomach.
I was happy to pull the ingredients
from their dry silhouettes etched
in grease churned walls, and slip a reminder
that it was my turn to chop onions.
His glasses always steamed,
faithfully rotating a fixed wrist
to drop the cupped elbow macaroni.
We started on the sauce,
split tomato cans brimming over the sink
drowned in this recipe’s history,
inherited from his grandmother’s kitchen,
a six by six makeshift slaughter room
with a window for chickens
clipped upside down onto clothes wires,
drained blood dripping three stories
to her Egyptian street.
Lost between boiled brown lentils
and basmati rice, he flicks the burner
nobs off, violently lumps layers
adding garbanzo beans and fried onions,
my father’s labored worship complete.
He could only kindle another cigarette
on the back patio, sip his black tea.


About Tamer Mostafa

Tamer Mostafa is a Stockton, California native and an alumnus of the Creative Writing Program at Sacramento State University. He can be reached at tamer_s_mostafa@hotmail.com.