Thursday, 12 April 2007

This is from my friend Tamie's blog.

You can see it in its original form here.



Wandering Around an Albuquerque Airport Terminal
by Naomi Shihab Nye

After learning my flight was detained 4 hours,
I heard the announcement:
If anyone in the vicinity of gate 4-A understands any Arabic,
Please come to the gate immediately.

Well -- one pauses these days. Gate 4-A was my own gate. I went there.
An older woman in full traditional Palestinian dress,
Just like my grandma wore, was crumpled to the floor, wailing loudly.
Help, said the flight service person. Talk to her. What is her
Problem? we told her the flight was going to be four hours late and she
Did this.

I put my arm around her and spoke to her haltingly.
Shu dow-a, shu- biduck habibti, stani stani schway, min fadlick,
Sho bit se-wee?

The minute she heard any words she knew -- however poorly used -
She stopped crying.

She thought our flight had been cancelled entirely.
She needed to be in El Paso for some major medical treatment the
Following day. I said no, no, we're fine, you'll get there, just late,

Who is picking you up? Let's call him and tell him.
We called her son and I spoke with him in English.
I told him I would stay with his mother till we got on the plane and
Would ride next to her -- southwest.

She talked to him. Then we called her other sons just for the fun of it.

Then we called my dad and he and she spoke for a while in Arabic and
Found out of course they had ten shared friends.

Then I thought just for the heck of it why not call some Palestinian
Poets I know and let them chat with her. This all took up about 2 hours.

She was laughing a lot by then. Telling about her life. Answering
Questions.

She had pulled a sack of homemade mamool cookies -- little powdered
Sugar crumbly mounds stuffed with dates and nuts -- out of her bag --
And was offering them to all the women at the gate.

To my amazement, not a single woman declined one. It was like a
Sacrament. The traveler from Argentina, the traveler from California,
The lovely woman from Laredo -- we were all covered with the same
Powdered sugar. And smiling. There is no better cookies.

And then the airline broke out the free beverages from huge coolers --
Non-alcoholic -- and the two little girls for our flight, one African
American, one Mexican American -- ran around serving us all apple juice
And lemonade and they were covered with powdered sugar too.

And I noticed my new best friend -- by now we were holding hands --
Had a potted plant poking out of her bag, some medicinal thing,

With green furry leaves. Such an old country traveling tradition. Always
Carry a plant. Always stay rooted to somewhere.

And I looked around that gate of late and weary ones and thought,
This is the world I want to live in. The shared world.

Not a single person in this gate -- once the crying of confusion stopped
-- has seemed apprehensive about any other person.

They took the cookies. I wanted to hug all those other women too.
This can still happen anywhere.

Not everything is lost.




***rob again

I really love the sense of community in this poem, that community can still spring out in unexpected places.

I was walking home on Thursday night after posting this poem (I'm adding to the post now), and somehow my senses just switched "on" -- I've written about that sensation before. Suddenly I was just seeing everything around, and everyone was my friend. This was unexpected, because a friend had cancelled an appointment on me that night, and that usually bums me out, but tonight, the entire world was just glowing a little, as if wet, or catching sunlight on snow crystals. I walked home as slowly as possible.

Hope you all walk home slowly sometime soon.

-Rob

4 comments:

tamie said...

oh i'm so happy that you put this poem on your blog too. i would ask you whether you think it's great too, but given that you posted it on your blog, i think the answer is obvious.

Anonymous said...

Rob, darling, check your e-mail. Some of us are trying to correspond with you, need your mailing address, regret missing your call, et cetera.

Suzanne

Anna said...

oh, thank you for the inspiration this morning, both to tamie who originally posted it on her blog and rob for passing it along via yours.

bradj said...

Viral poety! I love it!