Monday, December 5, 2011

This is the nectar off which I will feed...

"Her face is deeply mapped, her back slightly bent. Three years ago she made a pilgrimage to Mecca, became a Hajji. For a year afterward, she wore only white. Today she alters this slightly, wearing a long white dress embroidered with green, over black-and-white pajamas. It is cool here in the West Bank in late May; people think of the whole Middle East as a great hot desert, but here in this high, perched village the days feel light and breezy, the land a music of terraced hills.

Feelings crowd in on me; maybe this is what it means to be in your genetic home. That you will feel on fifty levels at once, the immediate as well as the level of blood, the level of uncles, of weeping in the pillow at night, weddings and graves, the babies who didn't make it, level of the secret and unseen.

Maybe this is heritage, that deep well that gives us more than we deserve. Each time I write or walk or think, I drop a bucket in. Staring at my grandmother, my Sitti, as she sits on the low bed, rocking back and forth in time with conversation, tapping her fingertips on her knees, I think, this is the nectar off which I will feed."

Page 50, 'One Village', from 'Never in a Hurry, Essays on People and Places' by Naomi Shihab Nye

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