Friday, April 15, 2022

And the Nile flows from Poem to Picture Book...Coming to you from Cairo

Because I am in Cairo in this minute and because it is Poetry Month and Poetry Friday, it seems appropriate to flow into a poem by an Egyptian poet...

River Nile

behold how the River Nile generously flows

and hugs the banks with its gentile waves

it flows and smiles to the sun above

it flows as the blood inside a body

it flows as the breaths inside the lungs

it flows to greet farms and gardens

it flows and waters thirsty throats

it flows and waters flowers and trees

it flows and offers fish for food

it flows and floods the dry soil

it flows through a valley of its creation

it flows beside great pyramids and temples

it flows to crown a heavenly land

it says: ''take my waters and grow''

it says: ''let my immortal waters flow''

it says: ''within my surge life awakens''

omar ibrahim

(To go to the website that features this poem click here)

...and then flow into a preview of my upcoming picture book, Egyptian Lullaby. (If you're unable to see the video below, you can watch it online here.)

During my first visit to Cairo, my Aunt Zina said, "Once you drink from the Nile, you will always return."  She was right. over the past 40 years, I have returned over and over to visit my father and family.  Cairo is a part of my heart.  Her words were the inspiration for my upcoming picture book, Egyptian Lullaby, due out in April 2023 by Roaring Brook Press.  It is my love letter to Cairo and captures my own longings when I am away for too long from my family's homeland. (You can watch the following video here.)

It is a reminder to my daughter that she too has drunk from the Nile and maybe throughout her time, Egypt will beckon her back as well.

Time was lost during the pandemic lockdowns. We all lost something.  For me, I was robbed of the time I would have spent with my father and my aunt.  We were not able to return for those two years. They have both passed now.  My aunt in June and my father four weeks ago today. He passed before I could get back. 

But the mighty Nile reminds me that Cairo will always contain their hearts and spirits.  They will never be truly gone as long as the Nile continues to flow.

(You can also watch the above video here.)

Time is measured by humans, a human construct if you will.  From where I the Nile...time is in the the present...fleeting like the wind that billows in the sails of the boat that floats down the river. 

Through the city, is the street that leads to my father's apartment. My father, who passed away three weeks before I arrived here. A human lifetime. His was long by human standards but relatively short by other measures.  

And in the distance, are the Pyramids of Giza.  They have stood unchanged by time over many, many lifetimes...much like the Nile.  Time is relative. A construct of humans to measure our existence. It flows.

By Zeena M. Pliska

Author of 

Hello, Little One: A Monarch Butterfly Story illustrated by Fiona Halliday

Published May 12, 2020 Page Street Kids

Egyptian Lullaby illustrated by Hatem Aly

Published by Roaring Brook Press Due out April 2023

For more info about me click here

If you are unable to view the videos:


Matt Forrest Esenwine said...

The Nile is, indeed, the lifeblood of the country and its people - and this poem parallels a humanistic quality to it. Thanks for sharing!

zeena said...

My pleasure! I’m so glad you connected with it!

Tina Cho said...

Sorry to hear about your dad & aunt, Zeena! I'm glad you're able to visit your relatives! Thanks for sharing your love of Egypt!

Patricia Franz said...

Zeena, what a beautiful tribute to a river, to a city, to a place, to a family, to your reverence for the long arc of time. May your father's and your aunt's memories be a blessing for you, wherever you are.

Denise Krebs said...

Zeena, it was lovely to read your post today. The Nile River sounds beautiful and powerful. I love the generational connections to it and coming back to it. Peace and comfort to you as you continue to mourn the loss of your aunt and father. I can't wait to see Egyptian Lullaby.

Elisabeth said...

Congratulations on your books! I'm so sorry for your family's loss - of your loved ones, and of time with them, prior to their passing. Thank you for sharing this glimpse of Cairo with us.

Heidi Mordhorst said...

Zeena, I'm sorry for the time with loved ones that you lost--and yet it seems you have captured some of it in your Egyptian Lullaby. I long to visit the Nile myself...

Carmela Martino said...

Your post is a beautiful tribute in so many ways, Zeena. Thanks so much for sharing it with us. I'm sorry you didn't have more time with your loved ones, but I love the image that:
They will never be truly gone as long as the Nile continues to flow.

Esther Hershenhorn said...

Thank you, Zeena, for this lovely, lovely post!
I so appreciate your sharing Your Story.
I can't wait to read EGYPTIAN LULLABY!
Esther Hershenhorn

April Halprin Wayland said...

Oh Zeena ~ how hard it must have been to learn of your father's death before you got there. Thank you for sharing your heart in this post