Today is not just one cup of black coffee after another.
Today, I have enough melancholy stacked on top
of more melancholy to climb up a sad stairway,
out of my down-in-the-dumps, here – into
the snow-covered mountain peaks of the Hindu Kush.
I should be wearing warm hiking boots & a wool coat
but I am barefoot & dressed in a white cotton bathrobe.
From a distance, I might appear to be a pilgrim
returning from the Hajj, still dizzy with elation
from circling the Kaaba & kissing the black sacred stone.
I am not a Muslim. I know this is childish of me
but prayer rugs make me think of flying carpets.
My coffee needs to be reheated. It cooled quickly in the thin air.
I am staring at the parking lot through my kitchen window
when I realize I haven’t polished my car in years.
Muslims believe the remembrance of God polishes
the human heart to reflect divine light lest their hearts
remain tarnished by selfishness.
I also believe the sacred spit & elbow grease
of prayer makes the human heart shine.
The human memory, however, is a different story.
Regardless of religion, it can hold a spirit captive for years
like the jinn in the lamp that Aladdin rubbed.
Scheherazade could not recall any of the tales after she told them.
I remember the fabled Sindbad tying meat to his back
so the Rocs unknowingly lift him out of the valley of diamonds.
I buff the outside of my coffee cup with the sleeve of my robe.
There is a flurry of wings. I am overlooking the Khyber Pass.