Bon Appétit

Two years ago this month, I arrived in Frankfurt for a speaking tour in Germany and Switzerland with Lenos Verlag, publisher of the first collection of We Are Not Numbers essays and poems. Despite the stress of trying to get a visa and two days of waiting at the Egyptian border, I finally made it! And I enjoyed every second: the streets, the cities, the company, the food. Every time the memories flood back, I find myself involuntarily smiling.

The author with his friends on tour
Basman with his Lenos Verlag hosts

In Frankfurt,
at an Italian restaurant, 
I take a bite of my dream,
a ravioli filled with spinach,
cheese, love and care.
We knock glass to glass
and share a bon appétit.

In Basel,
at Lenos Verlag’s office,
we sit at a table, eating hummus
creamy mashed potatoes  
and Swiss cheese.
We smile as I talk about
Gaza’s hummus, best in the world.
I picture Ghassan Kanafani,
nodding and smiling,
his book Returning to Haifa
resting on the table between us.

In Bern,
at Daniel's house,
we share a fondue.
I wonder which is best,
the taste of hot melted cheese,
hospitality, or freedom,
even when it's temporary.
Those ingredients
keep my heart warm for days.

In Hannover,
I share my last bon appétit,
accompanied by grilled salmon,
a fish I have not tasted before,
and grilled corn.

In Gaza,
I return to the best hummus,
but no salmon in the six miles of sea
we are allowed to sail.
I return to the Israeli blockade,
where I see with naked eyes
the ironclad warships prowling.
I sit at a café and stare
into the blue-green water
of the Mediterranean.
That far-off line between sky and water
re-awakens my dreams, my memories,
my smile.

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Mentor: Kevin Hadduck

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