Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Darwish & Dickinson

Mahmoud Darwish
& Emily Dickinson
side by side
on my shelves
aesthetically matched
loner by loner
into a happily ever after
of commingling

Poet to poet
meeting in me

in turn in time
book by book
and page by page

libraries build character

copyright ©2010 Anne Selden Annab

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


There is a fascinating news story this week about a stolen letter returned: Thinking man's mystery: Stolen Descartes letter returned

It has a happy ending... a happy ending only possible because of the research skills, the empathy, the Internet, the hard work and the good intentions of the people involved.

Recently I remembered this poem that I wrote many years ago, and I am posting it here in my Growing Gardens for Palestine blog, to honor Helen Thomas as she retires- to honor her as best as I can.

Other than being a human being, and oh yeah a woman, I have very little in common with Helen Thomas, but I do have great admiration for her legendary service.

Yesterday my dear friend and fellow blogger UmKhalil told me in a note that the last lines of my old poem describe her well...

An Arab Mind

To understand
an Arab mind
one must see Jordan in the Spring.

Wander through a Spring meadow,
cherish the brief blossoming
from brilliant poppy
to tiny delicate sunlit star-
purple thistles, blue flax, pinkish roses, all
come bursting from rock
and earth
and everywhere
where a seed might stray
there is bloom
and each bloom
seems infused
with purpose.


that the Arab mind
holds the perpetual memory
of Spring:

Shivering, stand in wet snow
listening to thunder,
as sleet melts
into rainfall
as the sun's glinting light

pulls forth a pretty posy here and there

and barrages of bloom rupture the earth.

Day after day of bloom bursting
and the deep indigo
of an oriental night
is fragrant.

By day the desert heat
comes back
to claim all color,
washing the hills with brown stubble
which the goats will graze to aught.

Presume, as you stand on barren stone
that soon enough, next spring-


This rock ledge will once again
with flowers

and a crumbling castle
will be a thousand urns
of growth.

Anne Selden Annab

Years ago in the late 1980s, when my husband first introduced me and our newly born son to his extended family- and the Arab world, I wrote many poems about my impressions. I did not, however, write poems about anything negative. Although, perhaps, I could have written quite a long epic poem exploring how utterly exhausted-frustrated- furious- hormonal- helpless and everything else I felt when standing in line to get off one of several seemingly endless flights we had to take to get to Jordan. The steward of an Air France flight warmly complimented us on how our wide awake baby was so well behaved during the long flight, and my husband cheerfully bragged that it was easy to keep him quiet. HELLO- it was not easy for me at all!

I now see that incident, and my husband's comment, in a very different light- but at the time it ... well let us just say that there is at least one very long epic poem I refuse to waste time or effort creating!

The older we get the more I understand that even in the most difficult situations we can choose to do the right thing, even when it is the hardest thing to do. We can "rise to the occasion" as my Grandmother used to say.

This week there are many people, including Obama and Abbas, as well as many organizations and officials who are sincerely doing all they can to try to help create a just and lasting peace in the Middle East. Give them a chance please- listen and try to use empathy and compassion to understand what they have to say.

I do not know what will be. But I do know that both Palestine and peace need all our best efforts- now more than ever.

Peacemaking takes courage, leaders

Israel must clarify Palestine's status

The Arab Peace Initiative