sparrow feathers

In 2020 everyone seemed to be reading Naomi Shihab Nye’s poetry. Friends, exiled in their homes because of Covid-19, forwarded her poem “Gate A–4,” about an old Palestinian woman losing her bearings in an airport terminal when her flight is delayed. Naomi meets her, speaks to her in halting Arabic, and watches as the scene is transformed: They call the woman’s son to give him news, then Naomi’s father to speak in Arabic, then friends. Soon, the woman hands out ma’amoul cookies, dusted with sugar, to exhausted passengers. “And I looked around that gate of late and weary ones and thought, This is the world I want to live in,” Naomi writes.

Far from home, one father transplants fig trees. Another crafts chocolates. A third creates places of welcome. Stephanie Saldaña, Naomi Shihab Nye, and Nour Al Ghraowi: three daughters tell the stories of their fathers, as their lives interweave.