The First Iraqi Tea

Please. Sit.
He nodded toward me, motioned to a worn chair.
Smiling, I quickly glanced at his wife and seven children,
seated on or hovering over faded furniture,
my cast-off floral sofa flanked by mismatched chairs.
Friends and I scrambled to find these just days before.
How much of home can one bring in a single suitcase each?

But they brought tea.
Soon a steaming cup was placed in my hands.
I inhaled the strange, spicy scent,
waited in the silence while wide dark eyes watched
cautious, I slowly sipped the strong sweet warmth.
How can I make them feel at home
in a home that is neither mine, nor theirs?

Beautiful faces and hesitant smiles began to seep into memory.
Tea leaves expanded in a dark liquid swirl.
They had come this far, left all things familiar,
shared with me a cup of tea.
Strangers and sojourners, all of us.
The silence swelled with possibility.