Today is more than 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
what could be the snow covered mountain peaks of the Hindu Kush.

I should be wearing warm hiking boots & a wool coat.
Instead, I am barefoot & dressed in my white cotton bathrobe.
From a distance, I might appear to be a pilgrim returning
from the Hajj, still dizzy with elation from circumambulating
the Kaaba & kissing the black sacred stone.

I am not a Muslim. I am not religious. I know it is childish of me
but prayer rugs make me think of flying carpets.
My coffee needs to be reheated. It cooled quickly in that thin air.

I stare at the parking lot outside my kitchen window,
waiting to hear the cathedral bells of the microwave,
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 trust the sacred spit & elbow grease of prayer can make the heart shine,
a captive belief lit by the lamp light of my catechism classes.

Scheherazade could not recall any of the tales she told that saved her life.
1,001 upshots to as many cups, or more, of Arabian coffee?
I remember her fabled Sindbad story, his 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 comes a flurry of wings. I am overlooking the Khyber Pass.