Kundalini Splendor

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Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Naomi Shihab Nye--"Wandering Around an Albuquerque Terminal"--poem 

Wandering Around an Albuquerque Airport Terminal

After learning my flight was detained 4 hours,

I heard the announcement:

If anyone in the vicinity of gate 4-A understands any


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


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


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


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.

- Naomi Shihab Nye


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