Saturday, August 19, 2006

Poem for Saturday

By Naomi Shihab Nye

"A true Arab knows how to catch a fly in his hands,"
my father would say. And he'd prove it,
cupping the buzzer instantly
while the host with the swatter stared.

In the spring our palms peeled like snakes.
True Arabs believed watermelon could heal fifty ways.
I changed these to fit the occasion.

Years before, a girl knocked,
wanted to see the Arab.
I said we didn't have one.
After that, my father told me who he was,
"Shihab"--"shooting star"--
a good name, borrowed from the sky.
Once I said, "When we die, we give it back?"
He said that's what a true Arab would say.

Today the headlines clot in my blood.
A little Palestinian dangles a truck on the front page.
Homeless fig, this tragedy with a terrible root
is too big for us. What flag can we wave?
I wave the flag of stone and seed,
table mat stitched in blue.

I call my father, we talk around the news.
It is too much for him,
neither of his two languages can reach it.
I drive into the country to find sheep, cows,
to plead with the air:
Who calls anyone civilized?
Where can the crying heart graze?
What does a true Arab do now?


I am in Hanover at my in-laws' house, from which we will leave early Saturday to go to the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire, which conveniently opens a couple of weeks before the Maryland Renaissance Festival. I love them both and would hate to have to choose one or the other! Friday was relatively quiet...well, "quiet" is the wrong word since younger son's rambunctious friend came over again for much of the day, but it was broken up by younger son's violin lesson in the early afternoon, during which I took older son shopping for some last minute trip essentials and let him buy with his own money a deck of Magic cards that he was itching to have (don't ask me which, I know there's a deck with ice age stuff and a deck with weapons and some kind of color coding and I have no idea what he has!)

I also wrote a review of "The Paradise Syndrome", more negative than I initially intended but despite the pretty scenery, solid guest performances and lovely Spock and McCoy moments, I really find Kirk rather unbearable in this storyline. Given how I have changed my mind on some episodes I had rather thought I liked, it will be interesting to see whether I hate "And the Children Shall Lead" next week as much as I think I do! Hail, hail, fire and snow, call the angel, we will go...speaking of which, alerted me to a couple of amusing articles in the news today, such as Man Trapped Waist-Deep in Chocolate. We wondered if he saw the Virgin Mary.

Sea lions at Mystic Aquarium.

They spend a lot of the day outdoors in this enclosure...

And some of them appear in the sea lion show several times a day.

Here, several hundred pounds of the biggest one (Kodiak I think?) drags himself across the floor by the audience before diving back into the pool.

The sea lions also do a trick where they are all given fish and are supposed to wait till a signal before eating them. Here is the very definition of patience.

For some reason we are not able to use my in-laws' internet on our own computer -- when we take the cable out of theirs and put it into ours, we can't use any of the browsers -- and their computer won't let me load Gmail, so I can't get any comment notifications! Will be home on Sunday and will answer comments I miss then!

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