About Me

My photo
Hussam has been a lifelong human rights activist who is passionate about promoting democratic societies, in the US and worldwide, in which all people, including immigrants, workers, minorities, and the poor enjoy freedom, justice, economic justice, respect, and equality. Mr. Ayloush frequently lectures on Islam, media relations, civil rights, hate crimes and international affairs. He has consistently appeared in local, national, and international media. Full biography at: http://hussamayloush.blogspot.com/2006/08/biography-of-hussam-ayloush.html

Thursday, June 10, 2010

A great poem: Wandering Around an Albuquerque Airport Terminal - By Naomi Shihab Nye

A friend shared this beautiful poem. Enjoy.


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 gat 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, 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 4 hours late and she

Did this.

I put my arm around her and spoke to her haltingly.

Shu dow-a, shu-beduck 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 canceled 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 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


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 cookie.

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

-- Had 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 was born to a Palestinian father and an American mother and grew up in Jerusalem and San Antonio. Her books of poetry include 19 Varieties of Gazelle: Poems of the Middle East; A Maze me: Poems for Girls; Red Suitcase; Words under the Words; and You and Yours.

No comments: