Crafting Gentleness

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Two Countries

by Naomi Shihab Nye

Skin remembers how long the years grow
when skin is not touched, a gray tunnel
of singleness, feather lost from the tail
of a bird, swirling onto a step,
swept away by someone who never saw
it was a feather. Skin ate, walked,
slept by itself, knew how to raise a
see-you-later hand. But skin felt
it was never seen, never known as
a land on the map, nose like a city,
hip like a city, gleaming dome of the mosque
and the hundred corridors of cinnamon and rope.

Skin had hope, that's what skin does.
Heals over the scarred place, makes a road.
Love means you breathe in two countries.
And skin remembers--silk, spiny grass,
deep in the pocket that is skin's secret own.
Even now, when skin is not alone,
it remembers being alone and thanks something larger
that there are travelers, that people go places
larger than themselves.

from Words Under the Words:
Selected Poems by Naomi Shihab Nye.

Interview with the poet: "[Ordinary words] have a weight that I recognize that helps me stay balanced."

In light of my 'disappearing' post, I notice that Naomi reads a poem in this interview called 'The Art of Disappearing', which speaks very much to some of what I was trying to say.

Please also read her letter "To Any Would-Be Terrorists."


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