Wednesday, May 16, 2007
The loud voice is famous to silence,
which knew it would inherit the earth
before anybody said so.
The cat sleeping on the fence is famous to the birds
watching him from the birdhouse.
The tear is famous, briefly, to the cheek.
The idea you carry close to your bosom
is famous to your bosom.
The boot is famous to the earth,
more famous than the dress shoe,
which is famous only to floors.
The bent photograph is famous to the one who carries it
and not at all famous to the one who is pictured.
I want to be famous to shuffling men
who smile while crossing streets,
sticky children in grocery lines,
famous as the one who smiled back.
I want to be famous in the way a pulley is famous,
or a buttonhole, not because it did anything spectacular,
but because it never forgot what it could do.
- Naomi Shihab Nye
Sunday, May 13, 2007
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.
- Naomi Shihab Nye
Tuesday, May 8, 2007
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.