Thursday, December 4, 2014

My 1000th Post

This is my 1000th post. A milestone. And I wanted it to say something about hope--something about what connects us, reveals our humanness. The poem, below, by Naomi Shihab Nye does just that. I hope it is one that will resonate with you.

When I began this blog I had no sense, at all, that I would have anything to say--nor did I imagine any actual readers. I wrote my first post in December 2009 while at Bard College. It was an assignment, an obligation. I kept the blog and I did not write again for nearly a year. 

In late August of 2010, I began to post regularly. This renewed effort at blogging coincided with hearing Will Richardson speak about his blogging.  I can still recall seeing the map that was on his blog at that time that displayed the number of people who had visited his blog. I was amazed at the number. His interest and passion in connecting with others was inviting. I thought that perhaps this might be something I could do too.

So I went home and faced the blank screen and began to write to you. What I could not imagine was that readers from more countries than I knew comprised the planet would interact with the blog. Through Goggle+, Twitter, and Facebook the page views are now nearing 2 million. Scale via the Internet is surprising to say the least. 

A blog, I've learned is not singularly authored. We feed off of each other.  Your important works (in)form mine.  I learn from you in unexpected ways. This blog remains a collective.  And that realization fills me with hope. Do know, it has been such a privilege to connect and to learn with you. 

Blogs are largely about connecting and composing collectively. Ideas bloom between. So please think of these posts as my mamool cookies--offered freely, dusted sweet. Thank you, imagined and real reader. You help me to stay rooted, to find hope in our common expressions.

Mary Ann

Gate A-4

Naomi Shihab Nye

Wandering around the 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 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 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 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 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 are no better cookies.

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 too.

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.

Not everything is lost.


  1. Truly a beautiful and moving poem... Thanks for sharing...

    1. Thanks for letting me know, Adam. I enjoy her work and this poem resonates so.

  2. Just beautiful, Mary Ann. It has been so good to have your blog posts keeping a connection for me! This is a wonderful poem...


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