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This poem delighted me when i read it on Tumblr [Apr. 24th, 2013|06:02 am]

Gate A-4 - http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/23313

by Naomi Shihab Nye

Wandering around the Albuquerque Airport Terminal, after learning
my flight had been delayed for four hours, I heard an announcement:
"If anyone in the vicinity of Gate A-4 understands any Arabic, please
come to the gate immediately."

Well--one pauses these days. Gate A-4 was my own gate. I went there.

An older woman in full traditional Palestinian embroidered 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 late and she did this."

I stooped to put my arm around the woma and spoke to her haltingly.
"Shu-dow-a, Shu-bid-uck Habibti? Stani schway, Min fadlick, Shu-bit-
se-wee?" The minute she heard any words she knew, however poorly
used, she stopped crying. She thought the flight had been cancelled
entirely. She needed to be in El Paso for major medical treatment the
next day. I said, "No, we're fine, you'll get there, just later, who is
picking you up? Let's call 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 two hours.

She was laughing a lot by then. Telling about her life, patting my knee,
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 mom from California, the
lovely woman from Laredo--we were all covered with the same powdered
sugar. And smiling. There is no better cookie.

And then the airline broke out free beverages from huge coolers and two
little girls from our flight ran around serving us all apple juice 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 tradi-
tion. Always carry a plant. Always stay rooted to somewhere.

And I looked around that gate of late and weary ones and I thought, This
is the world I want to live in. The shared world. Not a single person in that
gate--once the crying of confusion stopped--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, "Gate A-4" from Honeybee. Copyright © 2008 by Naomi Shihab Nye. (Only 11 hardback copies left at Amazon, there's a Kindle edition, and other booksellers have copies.)

On Tumbler via mslorelei & oliviacirce [1]

...she was born in St. Louis, Missouri in 1952 to an American mother and a Palestinian father. She lived in Jordan and Jerusalem before settling in San Antonio, Texas. [2]

"MONDAY, MAY 07, 2007
I read Naomi Shihab Nye's Wandering Around an Albuquerque Airport in the latest issue of Hope Dance. It's not linked there, but I found it at plenty of other web sites. Do yourself a favor today (right now) and read this.... it's a heartwarmer." [3]


[User Picture]From: bobby1933
2013-04-24 05:43 pm (UTC)

Naomi Shihab Nye

Thank you.

I had only recently heard of her and had been unable to really enjoy the little of her writing that i had read. This was lovely!!
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[User Picture]From: elainegrey
2013-04-24 11:03 pm (UTC)

Re: Naomi Shihab Nye

I'm curious how much of her writing catches this sort of experience of being in the world. Should know in a couple of days when the book gets here.
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[User Picture]From: ranunculus
2013-04-25 03:06 am (UTC)
Owww! that sounds lovely. Makes note to order.

I wandered over to say I really, really love your icon. Any possibility I could get a copy?

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[User Picture]From: elainegrey
2013-04-25 03:14 am (UTC)
Why thank you! What would you want the copy for? I've the original scans and higher res, but i must admit this has been my "face" for over ten years, so i would not be comfortable with someone else using it as an icon.
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[User Picture]From: ranunculus
2013-04-25 03:45 am (UTC)
I'm totally respectful of the "face" part of this equation. I have used the same icon for years as well.

For most of my life I've loved Celtic style artwork, and I really love what I see going on in the icon. I like the blend of modern and ancient, restraint and flight, watchful and hidden....

In recent years I've not done much with art - but 20+ years ago I chose a number of traditional Celtic patterns, got heavy fabric that was originally used to cover platforms used as a "runway" for little fashion shows, turned the fabric into shopping bags and painted them with patterns. I probably made no more than 10 or 12 before deciding that the labour to produce them was only worthwhile for gifts. This was right before fabric bags became common. At least one of those bags is still in service today.

OK that is a long answer (that says nothing) to a simple question. I'd probably "do" nothing with it, especially since you have a long association with it, and my non-use of art recently. If I were to use it I might print a copy and put it on the refrigerator to enjoy for a while, or possibly attempt (probably badly) to draw it onto something for use - luggage is a possibility - no one else is going to have that on their knapsack!

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