Every Day

My hundred year old next door neighbor told me:
Every day is a good day if you have it.
I had to think about that a minute.
She said, Every day is a present someone left at the table.
Trust me!  It may not feel like that
but it’s true.  When you’re my age
you’ll know.  Twelve is a treasure.
And it’s up to you
to unwrap the package gently,
lift out the gleaming hours
wrapped in tissue,
don’t miss the bottom of the box.
~~ Naomi Shihab Nye ~~

Song Book

Tiny keyboard bearing the massive reverie of the past–
press one button, we’re carried away on a country road,
marching with saints, leaving the Red River Valley…
here is every holiday you hated, every hard time,
each steamy summer wish.  You closed your eyes
in the wooden stairwell, leaning your  head against the wall,
knowing a bigger world loomed.  It’s still out there,
and it’s tucked in this keyboard too,
now we are an organ, now we are an oboe,
now we are young or ancient,
now we are smelling wallpaper in the house
our grandfather sold with every cabinet,
table and doily included,
but we are still adrift, floating,
thrum-full of longing layers of sound.
~~ Naomi Shihab Nye ~~

Hidden

If you place a fern
under a stone
the next day it will be
nearly invisible
as if the stone has
swallowed it.

If you tuck the name of a loved one
under your tongue too long
without speaking it
it becomes blood
sigh
the little sucked-in breath of air
hiding everywhere
beneath your words.

No one sees
the fuel that feeds you.

 
~~ Naomi Shihab Nye ~~

Daily

These shriveled seeds we plant,
corn kernel, dried bean,
poke into loosened soil,
cover over with measured fingertips
These T-shirts we fold into
perfect white squares
These tortillas we slice and fry to crisp strips
This rich egg scrambled in a gray clay bowl
This bed whose covers I straighten
smoothing edges till blue quilt fits brown blanket
and nothing hangs out
This envelope I address
so the name balances like a cloud
in the center of sky
This page I type and retype
This table I dust till the scarred wood shines
This bundle of clothes I wash and hang and wash again
like flags we share, a country so close
no one needs to name it
The days are nouns: touch them
The hands are churches that worship the world
 
~~ Naomi Shihab Nye ~~

Burning the Old Year

Letters swallow themselves in seconds.
Notes friends tied to the doorknob,
transparent scarlet paper,
sizzle like moth wings,
marry the air.

So much of any year is flammable,
lists of vegetables, partial poems.
Orange swirling flame of days,
so little is a stone.

Where there was something and suddenly isn’t,
an absence shouts, celebrates, leaves a space.
I begin again with the smallest numbers.

Quick dance, shuffle of losses and leaves,
only the things I didn’t do
crackle after the blazing dies.

 
~~ Naomi Shihab Nye ~~