Thursday, May 28, 2009

Mint poetics

I wanted to pick an object that had meaning to me, which was something simple yet original. I thought about how Mediterrean's rave about olives or olive oil, or even garlic. But I had to think about something that is just as valued and meaningful so that is when the fresh mint idea came to mind. I had it all set, to sit this stalk of mint down and write about how its used in our salads, in our foods, and our beverages. It's one of the those items that every Palestinian household would not be caught without! So, being that I was out "fresh" mint, and needed some for this assignment, I asked for some from a cousin which I had visited over the weekend after she presented us with some herbal tea with fresh mint in it. I just asked her for a stalk of it; not much, just enough for the assignment. She gave me a skeptical and I told her, "I'll tell you about this later!" So I go home with my mint and begin hashing out these thoughts about the mint until I recall the story she told me about it, and how she had a cousin of ours bring it over from our countryside town in Palestine, and how she replanted it and how it's grown wildly all over her suburban garden. I was struck by how they did this and how the mint made it through the travel and in this soil and how it's flourished. That is when I was compelled to turn it into a metaphor about the mint equating to the Palestinian people. Creating a dual identity, I tried to embody the mint as the diaspora of the Palestinians forced to flee their homelands, now as immigrants in a land which is unfamiliar to them, and how they have struggled to adapt, like most new immigrants coming to the US. So form this parallel in the lines describing the mint, to also describe the immigrant, who may be "darker", and "spiky edges" perhaps referring that they may not be so refined as the American standard. I add in the line about "adoring Jasmine" and "speaking to the butterflies" to show a gentle perspective to the uprooted mint/uprooted immigrant in the sense that they were kind and different than what you see now since they are busy striving like the rest of society in the US. Yet, perhaps the Jasmine could symbolize the floral essense of their mothers, or sisters, or loved ones, and the butterflies indicates the close relationships with kin they had in their native land. It goes without saying that many of the immigrants have soon adapted and "all the way to make time fly" just embodies all the ways that immigrants come to the US and are so wrapped up in succeeding and working, and playing that often, they forget how it was so simply and beautiful where they came from.However, by being busy, they can use it as a coping mechanism to forget the sorrow and loss they have lost as a people. The last stanza signfies how some flourished and made in America, while some have just broke through their customs and traditions to become "stubbornly wild"-same as the real mint in my cousin's garden. Those who have "withered" pertain to those who will never forget their struggles from being exiled and have not done well away from their beloved homeland.

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