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When One Is So Far from Home, Life Is a Mix of Fact and Fiction

No one should hold that against you.

It’s a means of survival.

Sometimes I thought my best talent was

taking a skinny story, adding wings and a tail.

Dressing it in a woolen Bedouin cloak

with stitching around the edges.

Putting a headdress on it.

Making a better picture.

Your mother got mad at me sometimes

for telling a story differently but it wasn’t a lie,

just a story in different clothes

with other things emphasized.

My own mother dressed up stories for 106 years

till that last winter she rode in her bed

like a boat, sitting up to sleep.

Maybe it’s our duty to be shaped

a hundred times by the same stories.

We think we’re telling them

but really they’re keeping us alive,

memory oxygen breathed out and in.

from TransferFind it in the library

Copyright © BOA Editions, Ltd 2011
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of BOA Editions LTD.

Published in Naomi Shihab Nye Poems

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