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Someone has been painting


across the backs of bus benches,

blotting out the advertisements beneath

with green so the strong silver letters

appear clearly at corners,

in front of taco stands

and hardware stores.

Whoever did this

must have done it in the dark,

clanging paint cans block to block

or a couple of sprays—

they must have really

wanted to do it.

Among the many distasteful graffiti on earth

this line seems somehow honorable.

It wants to help us.

It could belong to anyone,

Latinas, Arabs, Jews,

priests, glue sniffers.

Mostly I wonder about

what happened or didn’t happen

in the painter’s life

to give her this line.

I don’t wonder about the person

who painted HIV under the STOPs

on the stop signs in the same way.


Did some miracle startle

the painter into action

or is she waiting and hoping?

    Does she ride the bus with her face

    pressed to the window looking

    for her own message?

    Daily the long wind brushes YES

    through the trees.

from FuelFind it in the library

Copyright © BOA Editions, Ltd 1998
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.