I had business to do
At the grocery store
Which is now my bank
And my post office
And my flower shop
And my bakery
And my coffeehouse.
I can even get flu shots there,
Meet singles there
That is, if I weren’t a double.
Is more like a souk these days
Only not open-air!
A woman appeared in the aisle
In kaftan and head cover.
Did my thoughts summon her?
Our eyes met and I said “Assaamu Alaykum!”
She stopped in the aisle and cocked her head.
“Alaykum Saalam” she smiled
And her dark eyes danced, and
Together we laughed.
I explained I could not go
Much further in my “Street Arabic”
Of twenty-five years ago.
She said she was happy to hear the casual greeting!
To hear my words from her home,
In this new country, her new home town.
Her name is Leila, and
Her daughter works in the bank.
She asked had I been to Morocco.
No, I said, but I came close once:
Tunisia is a neighbor.
Leila loves Morocco,
Is proud to be Moroccan, and
Grateful to be an American.
I thought now wouldn’t it be fun
If I could go to Morocco with Leila!
Instead we said “Ma’a asalama”
In unison, and laughing again, we parted.
I thought to myself: Inshallah!