Naomi Shihab Nye
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.
Read the whole poem here
I rediscovered this gorgeous poem late this summer after two trips that had me spending disgruntled time in airports with all their chaos and suspicion. It tells a simple story about Naomi’s experience while waiting for a plane. How an elder Palestinian woman who spoke no English was weeping when she thought her plane was cancelled and how Naomi was able to speak to her in her own language and reassure her that the plane was only delayed.
Over time, Naomi called the woman’s sons to let them talk to their mother, called some of her Palestinian poet friends to chat, until the woman was at ease and comforted.
She goes on to describe how the woman then offered her bag of homemade cookies to everyone at the gate and To my amazement, not a single woman declined one. It was like a sacrament.
This is a story, simple and compelling, of how with generosity and kindness, strangers can connect, help one another, laugh together. As she says at the end: This can still happen anywhere. / Not everything is lost.
May you remember this story as you travel in the future, carry its sweetness to leaven the unpleasantness that air travel can often be. This is what poets can do for us, show us the shared world. Safe travels.