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Life on the Deckle Edge

Poetry Friday - "The Words Under the Words" by Naomi Shihab Nye

Happy 2012!

I've missed Poetry Friday these last couple of weeks - both Fridays found us on the road chalking up miles and memories with holiday travelling.

I'm looking forward to reading and writing lots of poetry this year. In March, I'll be presenting a workshop on haiku at the 43rd Annual Children's Literature Conference at the University of Georgia. In May, I'll head up to Boyds Mills to attend the "Poetry For All" Founders workshop.

So I'm starting the year off thinking about words, and acknowledging the need to slow down and ponder and appreciate. I came across this poem by Naomi Shihab Nye, and I'm thinking the words and hands of a wise grandmother from a different culture can help light the way, not just for poetry but for peaceful living.

The Words Under the Words

by Naomi Shihab Nye

for Sitti Khadra, north of Jerusalem

My grandmother's hands recognize grapes,
the damp shine of a goat's new skin.
When I was sick they followed me,
I woke from the long fever to find them
covering my head like cool prayers.

My grandmother's days are made of bread,
a round pat-pat and the slow baking.
She waits by the oven watching a strange car
circle the streets. Maybe it holds her son,
lost to America. More often, tourists,
who kneel and weep at mysterious shrines.
She knows how often mail arrives,
how rarely there is a letter.
When one comes, she announces it, a miracle,
listening to it read again and again
in the dim evening light.

My grandmother's voice says nothing can surprise her.
Take her the shotgun wound and the crippled baby.
She knows the spaces we travel through,
the messages we cannot send—our voices are short
and would get lost on the journey. ...

Read the rest of this poem and its powerful ending here.

And for more great poetry to lead you on your way this new year, catch the Poetry Friday Roundup rounded up by JoAnn at Teaching Authors.

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