Iranian Recipe, Commons Study Area, 5th Floor

First came the saffron, just a tickle, then in ebbs, flows.
Within minutes came the mint, still outweighed
by the heavier, yellow odors of the rice as we sat around
our table, spiral notebooks and papers spread out.
Lamb!, Bahman said across his political science textbook

someone’s cooking lamb. I recognize the flavors, the smells.
Ignoring his coffee, he lifted his head, eyes alight
behind his glasses, then, lids lowering to a near squint
as he inhaled the warm tide, lungs expanding, shrinking,
savoring dormitory air with his eyes mostly closed.

Cindy lifted her head to watch him, her finger held in place
where a pink highlighter has left its last track, just there
on page 220 among shifting demographic and social patterns
of the election of 1980. Bahman smiled his trademark grin
under a dark mustache as he stared out the fifth floor window

at drizzly nighttime campus lights. He spoke softly:
They’re cooking lamb with parsley, mint, a little onion—
and I think a bit of lemon—and they’re going to serve it
with rice...that’s the saffron, in the homemade yellow rice.
My grandmother made something like this when we were kids,

at her little house in Rasht, near the Caspian Sea, but
she made it with eggplant. She diced the lamb into tiny cubes,
mixed it in among the eggplant—in with butter, garlic,
sea salt, some tomato—and she’d bake it for a while,
then serve it with the rice. That was heaven, simply heaven.