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      “Let’s be the same wound if we must bleed.

      Let’s fight side by side, even if the enemy

      is ourselves: lam yours, you are mine.”

            -Tommy Olofsson, Sweden

I’m not interested in

who suffered the most.

I’m interested in

people getting over it.

Once when my father was a boy

a stone hit him on the head.

Hair would never grow there.

Our fingers found the tender spot

and its riddle: the boy who has fallen

stands up. A bucket of pears

in his mother’s doorwaywelcomes him home.

The pears are not crying.

Later his friend who threw the stone

says he was aiming at a bird.

And my father starts growing wings.

Each carries a tender spot:

something our lives forgot to give us.

A man builds a house and says,

“I am native now.”

A woman speaks to a tree in place

of her son. And olives come.

A child’s poem says,

“I don’t like wars,

they end up with monuments.”

He’s painting a bird with wings

wide enough to cover two roofs at once.

Why are we so monumentally slow?

Soldiers stalk a pharmacy:

big guns, little pills.

If you tilt your head just slightly

it’s ridiculous.

There’s a place in my brain

where hate won’t grow.

I touch its riddle: wind, and seeds.

Something pokes us as we sleep.

It’s late but everything comes next.

from Red SuitcaseFind it in the library

Copyright © BOA Editions, Ltd 1994
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of BOA Editions LTD.

Published in Naomi Shihab Nye Poems

This program is supported in part by a grant from the Idaho Humanities Council, a State-based program of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this (publication, website, exhibit, etc.) do not necessarily represent those of the Idaho Humanities Council or the National Endowment for the Humanities.