This spice mix is featured in many of the dishes in this book, lending them a uniquely Palestinian flavor.
 —Reem Kassis, The Palestinian Table

First they tango on my tongue,
nimble couples careening,
then together
form an Arab-style line dance
stepping, stomping, swaying.

West Indies allspice dazzles,
berries tangling with cinnamon sticks,
while cloves, Indonesian natives,
lead with a spirited solidarity solo.

Coriander seeds offer greetings in Hindi
as others toast comrades in languages
beyond borders and blockades.

Lifting up sisterhood, sun-wizened nutmeg
starts a sibling dance with mace.
Cumin demurs, then surprises
with subtle exultation.

Queen of spices cardamom,
host of the party, gives a nod to flavors
in hiding: lemony, sweet, warm, 
fragrant, nutty, pungent, hot.

Encouraged, feisty black peppercorns
shimmy center stage, organizing
the unique union of nine
for a vivacious global salute.

Copyright © 2022 by Zeina Azzam. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 7, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.