This was sent to me by a friend at midnight last night. I had—finally—turned off the news of the day, and was checking email one more time. Why not? I knew it would be hard to sleep anyway. I thought it was a contemporary blog post by one of my favorite authors. I learned today that Naomi Shihab Nye originally wrote it as a poem in 2008. It helped me sleep better. I hope it does the same for you.
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
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.