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Two Poems by Naomi Shihab Nye

Where Children Live


Homes where children live exude a pleasant rumpledness,

like a bed made by a child, or a yard littered with balloons.

To be a child again one would need to shed details

till the heart found itself dressed in the coat with a hood.

Now the heart has taken on gloves and mufflers,

the heart never goes outside to find something to do.

And the house takes on a new face, dignified.

No lost shoes blooming under bushes.

No chipped trucks in the drive.

Grown-ups like swings, leafy plants, slow-motion back and forth.

While the yard of a child is strewn with the corpses

of bottle-rockets and whistles,

anything whizzing and spectacular, brilliantly short-lived.

Trees in children’s yards speak in clearer tongues.

Ants have more hope. Squirrels dance as well as hide.

The fence has a reason to be there, so children can go in and out.

Even when the children are at school, the yards glow

with the leftovers of their affection,

the roots of the tiniest grasses curl toward one another

like secret smiles.


The Rider

A boy told me

if he roller-skated fast enough

his loneliness couldn’t catch up to him,

the best reason I ever heard

for trying to be a champion.

What I wonder tonight

pedaling hard down King William Street

is if it translates to bicycles.

A victory! To leave your loneliness

panting behind you on some street corner

while you float free into a cloud of sudden azaleas,

pink petals that have never felt loneliness,

no matter how slowly they fell.


Naomi Shihab Nye was born in St. Louis and lives in San Antonio, Texas. Of American and Palestinian heritage, she is author or editor of 30 books, including the teen novels
Habibi and Going Going and eight anthologies of poetry. She has been a Lannan Fellow, a Guggenheim Fellow, and a Wittner Bynner Fellow, and was elected a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets in 2010. “Where Children Live” is from Words Under the Words (Far Corner Books), and “The Rider” is from Fuel (Boa Editions). Both poems are reprinted by permission. Author photograph by Michael Nye.

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Where Children Live


Homes where children live exude a pleasant rumpledness,

like a bed made by a child, or a yard littered with balloons.

To be a child again one would need to shed details

till the heart found itself dressed in the coat with a hood.

Now the heart has taken on gloves and mufflers,

the heart never goes outside to find something to do.

And the house takes on a new face, dignified.

No lost shoes blooming under bushes.

No chipped trucks in the drive.

Grown-ups like swings, leafy plants, slow-motion back and forth.

While the yard of a child is strewn with the corpses

of bottle-rockets and whistles,

anything whizzing and spectacular, brilliantly short-lived.

Trees in children’s yards speak in clearer tongues.

Ants have more hope. Squirrels dance as well as hide.

The fence has a reason to be there, so children can go in and out.

Even when the children are at school, the yards glow

with the leftovers of their affection,

the roots of the tiniest grasses curl toward one another

like secret smiles.


The Rider

A boy told me

if he roller-skated fast enough

his loneliness couldn’t catch up to him,

the best reason I ever heard

for trying to be a champion.

What I wonder tonight

pedaling hard down King William Street

is if it translates to bicycles.

A victory! To leave your loneliness

panting behind you on some street corner

while you float free into a cloud of sudden azaleas,

pink petals that have never felt loneliness,

no matter how slowly they fell.


Naomi Shihab Nye was born in St. Louis and lives in San Antonio, Texas. Of American and Palestinian heritage, she is author or editor of 30 books, including the teen novels
Habibi and Going Going and eight anthologies of poetry. She has been a Lannan Fellow, a Guggenheim Fellow, and a Wittner Bynner Fellow, and was elected a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets in 2010. “Where Children Live” is from Words Under the Words (Far Corner Books), and “The Rider” is from Fuel (Boa Editions). Both poems are reprinted by permission. Author photograph by Michael Nye.

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Comments
1

"Now the heart has taken on gloves and mufflers,"

how very true and how adulthood catches some by the throat and wrings ones neck into unhappy submission

but not all...and never the poet

beauty work and "the Rider" is like mulled wine calling...ever warm and inviting!!

Brava!!

Oct. 7, 2010

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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