View from the Stoop (of Yemen cafe)

A lone Arab cop leans against the curlicued black railing, eyes darting back and forth. A faded sign that says “Ahlan Wa sahlan” (except the “ah” is technically missing) and the translated “welcome” is propped up on the Yemen storefront cafe. 

A dark haired teenager runs past me down the steps and twists the arms of the cop behind him in familiar jest. My eyes widen as the strange scene plays out: an NYPD van idles in the background and two large woman flanked in black burkas from head to toe walk back and forth on the sidewalk, hands gripping a styrofoam cup of spicy milk tea. 

The teen and cop begin to gesture their hands widely and point towards the women, their words a mix of Arabic and English; like olive oil in water, silky smooth but each in its own bubble. 

They walk over to one of the woman wearing burka. She sits comfortably on the makeshift wooden bench wrapped around a tree on the sidewalk. 

I crane my neck, eager to hear what is happening, eager to hear the sweet strains of my mother tongue.

After a few moments, they move on peacefully.  I sit and wonder if they saw me, beyond just a woman sitting on the stoop, waiting for her friend to arrive. 

I wonder if they felt the homesickness radiating from every part of me, or the bittersweet joy of finding a piece of home on this small strip of middle eastern stores in Brooklyn. 

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