What a lovely poem is Mohja Kahf’s “My Grandmother Washes her Feet in the Sink of the Bathroom at Sears.” With warmth and wry humor, the poet embraces the cultural differences that divide her grandmother from the good ladies who deplore her exercise of the Muslim ritual. Caught between cultures, the poet shows us how grace can triumph, despite the odds, just as the grandmother balances “herself with great poise” in the inopportune sink.
But how sad that Concord-Carlisle High School principal Peter Badalament felt the need to apologize for his school’s reading of this poem on Sept. 11 (“Principal explains Pledge omission,” Metro, Sept. 17). As if that grandmother, that poet, all who practice Islam, were the enemy; as if understanding these differences were an act of disrespect.
Let us devote every 9/11, in honor of the murdered ones, to acts of understanding, to the bridging of differences, to the building of a more humane world. If Badalament teaches that to his students, he will deserve our thanks.