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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

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.