Crushed Aleppo Peppers…

…is what the flat plastic bag reads.  It is part of my Blue Apron meal.  Tonight’s dinner.  As I stand there in my kitchen, making food from a place I’ve never been to, toes painted, arms tanned from wandering deliriously happy through sun and trees today, I thought of the little boy on the news not too long ago.  Face caked in dirt and blood, sitting in the back of an ambulance after surviving a blast, so utterly shattered that the way he wiped the blood from himself seemed almost absentminded.  Media eyes zoomed in as close as they could get.

Did he once crush peppers with his Jidd–a word for Grandma I had to look up, along with “What language is spoken in Syria?”  Did his eyes ever burn with pepper fumes and the giggles of his siblings and cousins whose eyes were also streaming?  Or was it only ever the fumes of war for him?  Did he ever stick his hands in the dirt of the garden, like the little ones I care for now so love to do, and pat near the ripe, red secret, growing in darkness?

If I take his crushed homeland into my body, like Communion, shouldn’t I owe him…something?  This boy I will never meet who will have bad dreams for the rest of his life.  Should I at least be required to use all the peppers?  Not throw half away in the bag because, “I don’t like it too spicy.”

If I eat the suffering of another, does it make me compassionate or immune–a suffering vaccine?


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I am a former teacher, writer, dancer, aspiring Taiko drummer, and artist. I am trying to listen to the journey, no matter where it turns, and pump out a whole lot of magic while I do.

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