A boy sat next to me on a street bench,
a carton of oranges in his hands,
noticing not my hunched form, fists clenched
around a misbaha, weighed by demands
that I could not fulfill, to my great shame.
The boy peels an orange, his long nails stained
yellow from the fruit’s flesh. I ask his name,
offer him a few dates, my voice restrained.
He takes one, offers back an orange.
I have many at home, but I accept
and thank him, knowing it’s not to infringe
to submit to another’s show of respect.
A discourse sparks, with joy I embellish
fruits from laborious study, a mixture
of philosophy and dogma, I relish
in those conclusions I drew from scripture,
the role of prophets, their hidden steps…
The boy listens, a faint smile on his face,
hands me another orange. I accept.
Though I have many at home, it’s my grace
To thank him for the fruit, for in truth
My gift was to allow him to provide.
He thanks me for the knowledge, though in truth
his gift was to allow my soul to thrive.