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Spice Shop

This spring afternoon,
the sun through the windows
warms old barn-beam shelves
and glass jars full of spices
with names like small poems:

pink peppercorn, red saffron,
turmeric and star anise,
and bulbs of blooming teas,
of jasmine and globe amaranth,
yellow osmanthus
ready to steep and unfurl.

The owner is writing
the spice of the month
on a chalkboard so old I think
it must have been salvaged from
some one-room schoolhouse
of a bygone era.

(tart sumac, cherry-dark,
measured out in little hills
on squares of brown paper,
if you’re wondering)

There is a sacred quiet here,
an honest stillness,
like a prayer you can taste
in the fragrant heat of
cinnamon and dried chiles,
in bold cumin and mustard,
in every tiny seed of fennel
and black sesame.

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