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Where Are You Now?

I position my head on the pillow

where you told your last folktale,

mixing donkey, camel, mouse,

journey, kitchen, trees,

so the story grew jumbled,

uncharacteristically long.

I listened from the other small bed

thinking, not about the story, but,

it’s the last one I’ll hear from this voice,

remembering two and four and six

when this voice calmed me every night,

thinking, how will I live without this voice?

At one point, you hallucinated.

Politics came in, a rare speck

of religion, even a bad nurse

you’d had at the clinic,

frustration of long illness

tangling with the tale,

Oh Dad, you’ve been so brave,

to which you replied,

What else can I do?

and returned to the comforting

donkey, bucket of olives,

smoke curling up from twig fire

over which anyone, a lost girl,

a wanderer, a dying man,

could warm his hands.

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.