Two poems by Naomi Shihab Nye… I’ve fallen in love with her work. lv, molly
Breaking the Fast
Japanese teacher says:
At first light, rise.
Don’t hover between
sleep and waking,
this makes you heavy,
puts a stone inside your heart.
The minute you drift back to shore,
Remember your deepest name.
Sometimes objects stun me,
bamboo strainer, gray mug,
sitting exactly where
they were left.
They have not slept
or dreamt of lost faces.
I touch them carefully,
saying, tell me what you know.
Cup of waves,
in a seashell.
In morning the water seems
clear to the bottom.
No fish blocks my view.
Valentine For Ernest Mann
You can’t order a poem like you order a taco.
Walk up to the counter, say, “I’ll take two”
and expect it to be handed back to you
on a shiny plate.
Still, I like your spirit.
Anyone who says, “Here’s my address,
write me a poem,” deserves something in reply.
So I’ll tell you a secret instead:
poems hide. In the bottoms of our shoes,
they are sleeping. They are the shadows
drifting across our ceilings the moment
before we wake up. What we have to do
is live in a way that lets us find them.
Once I knew a man who gave his wife
two skunks for a valentine.
He couldn’t understand why she was crying.
“I thought they had such beautiful eyes.”
And he was serious. He was a serious man
who lived in a serious way. Nothing was ugly
just because the world said so. He really
liked those skunks. So, he re-invented them
as valentines and they became beautiful.
At least, to him. And the poems that had been hiding
in the eyes of skunks for centuries
crawled out and curled up at his feet.
Maybe if we re-invent whatever our lives give us
we find poems. Check your garage, the odd sock
in your drawer, the person you almost like, but not quite.
And let me know.