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Sunday, October 26, 2008


My Mother

On Friday I read Mahmud Darwish's "Ummi" [Mother] at Wiesbaden High School's lunch time Poetry Slam. Our school has under five hundred kids and there were about thirty kids and a smattering of staff present, which is pretty good considering many of the kids were involved in preparations for the annual Powder Puff football game.

I believe that "Ummi" will be read worldwide on Mother's Day, on our mothers' birthdays, and also at our mothers' funerals. It resonates universally, and I was thrilled when co-workers commented "Beautiful," and when students attended with rapt faces:

My Mother (Ummi) by Mahmoud Darwish

I long for my mother's bread
My mother's coffee
Her touch
Childhood memories grow up in me
Day after day
I must be worth my life
At the hour of my death
Worth the tears of my mother
And if I come back one day
Take me as a veil to your eyelashes
Cover my bones with the grass
Blessed by your footsteps
Bind us together
with a lock of your hair
With a thread that trails from the back of your dress
I might become immortal
Become a god
If I touch the depths of your heart
If I come back
Use me as wood to feed your fire
As the clothesline on the roof of house
Without your blessing
I am too weak to stand
I am old
Give me back the star maps of childhood
So that I
Along with the swallows
Can chart the path
Back to your waiting nest

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