I volunteer for kitchen duty on base along with another American
and a British girl
and the workers there look like all my uncles
from my mother’s side.
They ask my name
and they remember it
and they say all the nicknames naturally,
without me having to tell them.
They call the other girls
They brew Turkish coffee and insist I drink a cup;
laugh when I tell them it is too strong,
when I ask for soy milk…
but they bring me some anyway.
They sing to me in Arabic
and I admit to them that I am only half Yemenite
but it is more than enough for them.
They jokingly apologize that there’s no jachnoon on the menu.
They offer me a cigarette
which I decline;
to this they nod approvingly
and offer me a smile
which I accept.
They tell me to ignore the leering soldiers
who are only boys.
At the end of the night,
Tariq sneaks me pastries
Amal piles my arms with fruits
The white girls leave empty-handed.
Leeor Margalit: "I am a 22 year old Yemenite/Ashkenazi Jewish woman from southern California and have not been previously published. I currently reside on a kibbutz in the South of Israel."