In this edition of "Village Voice," inaugural poet Richard Blanco highlighted the anthology “What Saves Us: Poems of Empathy and Outrage in the Age of Trump,”edited by Martin Espada, out Oct. 15, 2019.

Blanco read from two poems that will be included in the anthology, including one of his own.

"Complaint of El Río Grande," from "How to Love a Country"
By Richard Blanco

I was meant for all things to meet: to make the clouds pause in the mirror of my waters, to be home to fallen rain that finds its way to me, to turn eons of loveless rock into lovesick pebbles and carry them as humble gifts back to the sea which brings life back to me.

I felt the sun flare, praised each star flocked about the moon long before you did. I’ve breathed air you’ll never breathe, listened to songbirds before you could speak their names, before you dug your oars in me, before you created the gods that created you.

Then countries—your invention—maps jigsawing the world into colored shapes caged in bold lines to say: you’re here, not there, you’re this, not that, to say: yellow isn’t red, red isn’t black, black is not white, to say: mine, not ours, to say war, and believe life’s worth is relative.

You named me big river, drew me—blue, thick to divide, to say: spic and Yankee, to say: wetback and gringo. You split me in two—half of me us, the rest them. But I wasn’t meant to drown children, hear mothers’ cries, never meant to be your geography: a line, a border, a murderer.

I was meant for all things to meet: the mirrored clouds and sun’s tingle, birdsongs and the quiet moon, the wind and its dust, the rush of mountain rain— and us. Blood that runs in you is water flowing in me, both life, the truth we know we know: be one in one another.

"Gate A-4," from "Honeybee"
By 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.

Richard Blanco is the fifth presidential inaugural poet in U.S. history, His new book, "How To Love a Country," deals with various socio-political issues that shadow America.