Red Brocade by Naomi Shihab Nye
The Arabs used to say,
When a stranger appears at your door,
feed him for three days
before asking who he is,
where he’s come from,
where he’s headed.
That way, he’ll have strength
enough to answer.
Or, by then you’ll be
such good friends you don’t care.
Lets to back to that.
Rice? Pine nuts?
Here, take the red brocade pillow.
My child will serve water
to your horse.
No, I was not busy when you came!
I was not preparing to be busy.
That’s the armor everyone put on
to pretend they had a purpose
in the world.
I refuse to be claimed.
Your plate is waiting.
We will snip fresh mint
into your tea.
I first read Naomi Shihab Nye when I was a librarian and bought her young adult novel Habibi for the collection. This story of a modern teen who moves from St. Louis to Jerusalem with her Palastinian family and her struggle with the clash of cultures could very well reflect her own multi-cultural background. She has also written many books of poetry. I don’t know which book Red Brocade is from; it came in the Crhistmas card sent by a young friend. It reflects their life, and the life I would like to lead.
It is also a perfect companion to the poem I had originally planned for this Muse Day. When I heard the 88 year old poet Marie Ponsot read from her new book, Easy, on the PBS Newshour I had to order it immediately. Simples is the poem that first inspired me.
Simples by Marie Ponsot
“what do I want
well I want to
Thank you Carolyn gail for hosting Muse Day. For more muses logon to Sweet Home and Garden Chicago.
This Post Has 5 Comments
I was stuck with the simplicity of Marie Ponsot’s poem on the Newshour, too, but I hadn’t read Red Brocade before. Keep on a-muse-ing us in the new year, please…..
Muse day. It is so busy here I almost forgot it. I love this poem. Happy New Year.
I love both of these poems Pat! A lovely way of being . . . something to strive for. Wishing you a Healthy Joyful and Great Gardening New Year! All Best Wishes for 2010! Carol
Wonderful entries for Muse Day, Pat! They both have such inspiring messages we all would do well to take to heart. Best Wishes for a happy New Year!
Tinky – I never thought I would find so much to include for Muse Day when I began. I love keeping my eyes and mind open.
Lisa – Busy here too, but I was really waiting for the chance to use these poems.
Carol – Having something to strive for at the beginning of the year is always a good thing.
Rose – Best wishes to you and all for a happy 2010 – and peace.