Naomi Shihab Nye

(12 March 1952 / St. Louis, Missouri)

Blood - Poem by Naomi Shihab Nye

"A true Arab knows how to catch a fly in his hands,"
my father would say. And he'd prove it,
cupping the buzzer instantly
while the host with the swatter stared.

In the spring our palms peeled like snakes.
True Arabs believed watermelon could heal fifty ways.
I changed these to fit the occasion.

Years before, a girl knocked,
wanted to see the Arab.
I said we didn't have one.
After that, my father told me who he was,
"Shihab"--"shooting star"--
a good name, borrowed from the sky.
Once I said, "When we die, we give it back?"
He said that's what a true Arab would say.

Today the headlines clot in my blood.
A little Palestinian dangles a truck on the front page.
Homeless fig, this tragedy with a terrible root
is too big for us. What flag can we wave?
I wave the flag of stone and seed,
table mat stitched in blue.

I call my father, we talk around the news.
It is too much for him,
neither of his two languages can reach it.
I drive into the country to find sheep, cows,
to plead with the air:
Who calls anyone civilized?
Where can the crying heart graze?
What does a true Arab do now?

Comments about Blood by Naomi Shihab Nye

  • Sona Wilae (1/16/2018 1:24:00 AM)

    Every nationality has a history of shameful pride in one area or another. If we can't ALL compromise to get pass our past mistakes we will never close this racial divide here in America, especially. (Report) Reply

    0 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • Mohammed Asim Nehal (3/10/2016 2:07:00 PM)

    Nice touchy story........10++++ (Report) Reply

  • Susan Williams (12/31/2015 2:25:00 PM)

    Heart-felt emotions here. I wish the questions she raises would be answered but so far every generation and every race has the same questions and the same silence for an answer (Report) Reply

  • Dutendra Chamling (10/30/2015 1:14:00 AM)

    I wave the flag of stone and seed

    Who calls anyone civilized?
    Where can the crying heart graze?
    What does a true Arab do now?

    (Report) Reply

  • Leslie Sharp (10/29/2014 8:57:00 AM)

    It was a nice poem about family and country gives a glance into the turmoil they feel, a country in war! A realistic hurt a true American would say. (Report) Reply

  • Theresa Rawlings (1/20/2014 4:50:00 PM)

    Beautiful, just beautiful. (Report) Reply

  • (5/19/2010 6:43:00 PM)

    That is beautiful, the way she writes is so simple as complicated at the same time, i'm glad i found her poems. (Report) Reply

  • (12/1/2006 4:08:00 AM)

    Nice one Naomi, But i'm just curious what do arab means? (Report) Reply

  • (6/13/2005 11:18:00 PM)

    Beautfiul Poem,

    (Report) Reply

  • (1/24/2005 2:11:00 PM)

    Your poem gave me chills, is was Awesome!
    Loved it

    Nick Z~
    (Report) Reply

Read all 10 comments »
User Rating:
3,8 / 5 ( 45 votes ) 10

Read this poem in other languages

This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.

I would like to translate this poem »

word flags

What do you think this poem is about?

Read poems about / on: father, girl, today, star, spring, sky, snake, believe, change

Poem Submitted: Monday, January 20, 2003

Famous Poems

  1. Still I Rise
    Maya Angelou
  2. The Road Not Taken
    Robert Frost
  3. If You Forget Me
    Pablo Neruda
  4. Dreams
    Langston Hughes
  5. Annabel Lee
    Edgar Allan Poe
  6. Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening
    Robert Frost
  7. If
    Rudyard Kipling
  8. Do Not Stand At My Grave And Weep
    Mary Elizabeth Frye
  9. I Do Not Love You Except Because I Love You
    Pablo Neruda
  10. Television
    Roald Dahl
[Report Error]