“This Is the World I Want to Live In”: A Comforting Poem for a Troubled Time

Photo credit: Ha Lam

Photo credit: Ha Lam

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.


Gate A-4

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 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.

>>click here to read the full poem



About the Author:

Ilene Cooper spends most of her day looking at, assigning, and reviewing (some) of the 7,000 children's books that are published each year in her role as contributing editor at Booklist. Follow her on Twitter at @Booklist_Ilene.

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