Naomi Shihab Nye

(12 March 1952 / St. Louis, Missouri)

Jerusalem


“Let’s be the same wound if we must bleed.
Let’s fight side by side, even if the enemy
is ourselves: I am yours, you are mine.”
—Tommy Olofsson, Sweden

I’m not interested in
who suffered the most.
I’m interested in
people getting over it.

Once when my father was a boy
a stone hit him on the head.
Hair would never grow there.
Our fingers found the tender spot
and its riddle: the boy who has fallen
stands up. A bucket of pears
in his mother’s doorway welcomes him home.
The pears are not crying.
Later his friend who threw the stone
says he was aiming at a bird.
And my father starts growing wings.

Each carries a tender spot:
something our lives forgot to give us.
A man builds a house and says,
“I am native now.”
A woman speaks to a tree in place
of her son. And olives come.
A child’s poem says,
“I don’t like wars,
they end up with monuments.”
He’s painting a bird with wings
wide enough to cover two roofs at once.

Why are we so monumentally slow?
Soldiers stalk a pharmacy:
big guns, little pills.
If you tilt your head just slightly
it’s ridiculous.

There’s a place in my brain
where hate won’t grow.
I touch its riddle: wind, and seeds.
Something pokes us as we sleep.

It’s late but everything comes next.

Submitted: Wednesday, January 04, 2012

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Comments about this poem (Jerusalem by Naomi Shihab Nye )

  • Rookie - 303 Points Joe Breunig (1/4/2012 5:41:00 AM)

    Oh for the peace of Jerusalem; despite all of the prayers previously offered to God, it's a place that has been destroyed 13 times and subsequently rebuilt; the weariness of wars continues to sow seeds of suffering among the descendants of Abraham, within the lineage of Ismael - fighting over the ownership of land that still belongs to God.

    -Joe Breunig
    Reaching Towards His Unbounded Glory (Report) Reply

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