Friday: The plan this weekend is to edit a story, read a book, clean the kitchen, write an essay. But there is a ladybug in the house and my job becomes to keep track of it.

Saturday : The cats play with acorns in the yard. Take a walk up the road, get some good tremors in my brain, make coffee, sit down, try to trap them. Quickly, the trapping becomes less important than being quiet in the dark.

Sunday: Make a bracelet with a five year old who has a lot of questions. Get blue dye on my hands from the ribbon we use to tie the bracelet. She knocks beads all over the floor. I like for the movement and then the clean task of retrieving them.

Monday: Drink coffee, cry in a stranger’s driveway, a parking lot, the sidewalk near the Chinese restaurant. Crying feels dangerous, but not crying feels the same. (What are you doing, though? What are you crying about? Do you even know?)

Tuesday: Write 600 words on the bathroom floor, next to the cat’s water bowl. It does not feel like the rearrangement of my organs, or the answer to everything. It feels smooth, like, we have been waiting, where have you been.




how to get here


I’ve seen this many times, the remains of what I think used to be a house, new remains, probably, but maybe old ones, too, and when does new become old, anyway?  You have to know this place exists, to remember to look to your right when you’re driving,  pull over, put your hazards on, and then cross the street.  It was my birthday, and all I wanted was this shot, and I was wearing my mighty boots, good for wading through leaves and mud, and climbing up on debris so I could focus the lens on the chimney. I could only get so close, and I had burrs and dust on my pants when I got back in the car, which I am telling you about because it was the best time of the day.

Tagged ,



(Photo by J)

Naomi Shihab Nye

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.

the wait

The cat who resembles an orange moon was missing for more than twenty four hours. I was sure he was dead in one of the piles of leaves surrounding the house, but then he appeared, from around the corner, when we called for him, and I thought it was a dream. Who comes when you call them anymore? I was so tired after that. It felt like so much of the day.


Screenshot 2015-11-14 at 2

Really so proud of myself for screenshooting this and noticing that SALEM IS LOCATED IN NO STATE.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 137 other followers