Gate A-4 + Writing Prompt #SOL19

This week I reread Gate A-4 by Naomi Shihab Nye. You can read the story at the link below.

I have a deep love for Nye’s work. I was introduced to her poem Secrets at the Writers at Work conference many years ago by educator celebrity Laura Robb.

The setting of the story is the Albuquerque Airport which I have actually been to. It is the backdrop for the story but also allows the conflict to play out in a natural organic way. I do find the lack of compassion from the flight agents disturbing but I feel it is purposeful for the pacing of the story. Another peculiar detail is the four hour delay. That seems long with no explanation.

One of the main themes of this piece is connection. The connections we have to people and how food plays a part. Food has a way of spanning all kinds of voids including language barriers.

When I was young my cousin from Germany would visit us every summer. For the first few summers I didn’t speak much German and he didn’t speak much English yet we were inseparable. Food played a big part of daily life in my Oma’s house and was a connector for us. Meals were always all together.

Lines I love from this story:

“Such an old country tradition. Always carry a plant. Always stay rooted to somewhere.”

“This can still happen anywhere. Not everything is lost.”

There is power in such a short amount of words. I love the idea of home and being rooted. I think as I get older I think more and more we are rooted to other people more than places. At least this seems to be in the case in my experience.

This story is about one event – what happens in the delay of the flight and how this woman who speaks no English brings a gate full of people together with cookies that bridge a gap of apprehension and prejudice.

As a teacher I see both of these lines being great springboards for quickwrites. I plan to use quickwrites for some of my #SOL19 posts for the Two Writing Teachers March challenge. If you would like more information about this challenge click here. I also will reference Linda Rief’s Quickwrite book. I have been a fan of Linda’s for a long time. I was honored to meet her in person many years ago. I even have her first quickwrite book which she autographed for me.

Writing Prompt: Write for 3-5 minutes using the lines from the story Gate A4.

Here are my quickwrites from these lines:

“Such an old country tradition. Always carry a plant. Always stay rooted to somewhere.”

Carrying a plant as you travel seems to be a cumbersome activity in reality but I like the metaphor. As we travel away from home it is nice to have a connection to home. Now it is mostly through communication with the cell phone. I have had the experience of being connected to loved ones by letters when cell phone service is not available. Connection to home is people. Yes where we sleep is important. Sleeping in our own beds is usually a sentiment of what we miss when away. Plants are different in different landscapes. They can sometimes be transplanted and sometimes they die. Plants thrive where they originate from. Some plants don’t do well when you take them out of their natural habitat. Are people are the same way? Some can be transplanted and do well. Some are so attached to where they originate they cannot live anywhere else. I am not that person.

“This can still happen anywhere. Not everything is lost.”

Apprehension of people can be dissolved with cookies and compassion. We are not lost on each other we can find the place we are more alike than different. Who knew it could be a gate in an airport in New Mexico.

What are your thoughts about these lines?


6 thoughts on “Gate A-4 + Writing Prompt #SOL19

  1. I am doing quickwrites for my slices this year too, featuring Linda’s book and Spark! from Paula Bourque. I am bookmarking this page to use this one well!

    Your thoughts about being transplanted stuck with me today. I always said I was moving away as soon as I finished school, but ended up coming back to my hometown. Maybe I am one those who can’t be transplanted??

    Liked by 1 person

    • I saw Paula’s Tweet and a couple of her SPARKS she shared. I need to check out her book. I am glad my writing resonated with you. Your posts always inspire me so I am glad mine was impactful for you today! I look forward to reading all the slices in March


  2. I love that story! The plants remind me of a teacher friend of mine. She has a snake plant that belonged to her grandmother! I think that’s amazing that she is nurturing something that her family has tended for decades now. No matter where she goes, she’ll always have that piece of her grandmother.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What a wonderful story! Sadly, although people often come together with compassion when they deal with each other one-on-one face-to-face, those same people have no trouble going “us” and “them” in general. But we must keep heart and keep face-to-facing with compassion. All is not lost unless everybody gives up, right?

    Liked by 1 person

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