For Kate

Drizzle thrashed in dark damp gusts filling mucky puddles
and chilled our bones in the battle to get home that night.

The empty street, warmed in part by light emanating from second floor windows
a lady in black hijab dropped her shopping and rested with her hands on her hips.

Thankfully, I deferred to your kindness, myself embarrassed to offer help.
Tesco bags in hand, far away spices bedded down with familiar carrots, water.

Walking home, she shined on us her guarded truths of Egypt,
between severe breaths, her hardships made her heart falter, she said.

At her home, she offered us black tea, khoushari, khoshaf – cinnamon filled the air
and I was self-conscious from this openness – this feast too good, too much.

I misplaced her name but still carry her sad and frank face.
I ask Allah why kindness is still so elusive now, thankful again – ashamed.

Jack Little