Ahmed drives to the airport outside Paris. Enchantée Jasmin.
He smiles, talks with his hands of his childhood home
in Algeria. There was a courtyard garden in the center,
checkered tile floors surrounded by curved archways
connecting to the rooms. The garden grew white jasmine
in spring sun. Ahmed would sleep outside just to smell them.
He says: If I closed my eyes right now, I still can, so beautiful.
But don’t worry, I won’t while driving. He chuckles as the car
swells with a piano song. I hide my crying beneath clinking keys.
No matter how far you go, you can smell home he says
and it’s true, but I don’t want to leave my French home of flowers,
of funerals. I don’t know when I’ll return to visit my dead.
We reach Charles de Gaulle terminal A, pronounced in French as ah
like a sigh of sadness or ease. I’m unsure which goes more with my grief.
I thank Ahmed, ah like a sigh, for the story. He says, get safe, go home.
Jasmin Lankford’s debut poetry collection, “Don’t Forget to Water the Flowers,” is forthcoming from Vital Narrative Press. She is based in Florida. Her work has been published in several journals including Kissing Dynamite, L’Éphémère Review and elsewhere. Website: jasminlankford.com.