“Always carry a plant.”

Lauren Sharpe
4 min readApr 21, 2020


It’s all seed planting these days it seems. In my window I have started nasturtiums, herbs, borage I saved from seed in 2018, and some random beans. I need to see things grow before my very eyes so I plant beans in empty milk cartons to see the beans turn into actual plants so I can remember that life is fast and life is long and we all basically come from a bean that splits in two and then sprouts for as long as it can. In my mind I am planting ideas of what I can do from where I am. It feels rather quiet.

After the Meets and the Zooms, I stir the soil in a silver bowl, adding water to make it damp again. We read a poem and they act it out in one take. I send the video to the teacher to say wow this is so great! I walk from one end of the apartment to the other end of the apartment and plant the seeds in empty eggshells. I tuck them in. I walk and take a picture. I clap hard at 7pm. I brush my hair. I brush their hair. They go to sleep so I can join an Instagram Live video of my friend in the bathtub.

I’ll let Naomi take it from here tonight. Thank you, poets, for doing the heavy lifting when even a feather seems heavy.

Gate A-4

Naomi Shihab Nye

Wandering around the Albuquerque Airport Terminal, after learning
my flight had been delayed four hours, I heard an announcement:
“If anyone in the vicinity of Gate A-4 understands any Arabic, please
come to the gate immediately.”

Well — one pauses these days. Gate A-4 was my own gate. I went there.

An older woman in full traditional Palestinian embroidered dress, just
like my grandma wore, was crumpled to the floor, wailing. “Help,”
said the flight agent. “Talk to her. What is her problem? We
told her the flight was going to be late and she did this.”

I stooped to put my arm around the woman and spoke haltingly.
“Shu-dow-a, Shu-bid-uck Habibti? Stani schway, Min fadlick, Shu-bit-
se-wee?” The minute she heard any words she knew, however poorly
used, she stopped crying. She thought the flight had been cancelled
entirely. She needed to be in El Paso for major medical treatment the
next day. I said, “No, we’re fine, you’ll get there, just later, who is
picking you up? Let’s call him.”

We called her son, I spoke with him in English. I told him I would
stay with his mother till we got on the plane and ride next to
her. 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 two hours.

She was laughing a lot by then. Telling of her life, patting my knee,
answering questions. She had pulled a sack of homemade mamool
cookies — little powdered sugar crumbly mounds stuffed with dates and
nuts — from 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 mom from California, the
lovely woman from Laredo — we were all covered with the same powdered
sugar. And smiling. There is no better cookie.

And then the airline broke out free apple juice from huge coolers and two
little girls from our flight ran around serving it 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 tradi-
tion. Always carry a plant. Always stay rooted to somewhere.

And I looked around that gate of late and weary ones and I thought, This
is the world I want to live in. The shared world. Not a single person in that
gate — once the crying of confusion stopped — 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.



Lauren Sharpe

brooklyn, ny — theater maker/feels taker/educator/learner she/her/hers