Different Ways To Pray Poem by Naomi Shihab Nye

Different Ways To Pray

Rating: 4.3

There was the method of kneeling,
a fine method, if you lived in a country
where stones were smooth.
The women dreamed wistfully of bleached courtyards,
hidden corners where knee fit rock.
Their prayers were weathered rib bones,
small calcium words uttered in sequence,
as if this shedding of syllables could somehow
fuse them to the sky.

There were the men who had been shepherds so long
they walked like sheep.
Under the olive trees, they raised their arms—
Hear us! We have pain on earth!
We have so much pain there is no place to store it!
But the olives bobbed peacefully
in fragrant buckets of vinegar and thyme.
At night the men ate heartily, flat bread and white cheese,
and were happy in spite of the pain,
because there was also happiness.

Some prized the pilgrimage,
wrapping themselves in new white linen
to ride buses across miles of vacant sand.
When they arrived at Mecca
they would circle the holy places,
on foot, many times,
they would bend to kiss the earth
and return, their lean faces housing mystery.

While for certain cousins and grandmothers
the pilgrimage occurred daily,
lugging water from the spring
or balancing the baskets of grapes.
These were the ones present at births,
humming quietly to perspiring mothers.
The ones stitching intricate needlework into children’s dresses,
forgetting how easily children soil clothes.

There were those who didn’t care about praying.
The young ones. The ones who had been to America.
They told the old ones, you are wasting your time.
Time?—The old ones prayed for the young ones.
They prayed for Allah to mend their brains,
for the twig, the round moon,
to speak suddenly in a commanding tone.

And occasionally there would be one
who did none of this,
the old man Fowzi, for example, Fowzi the fool,
who beat everyone at dominoes,
insisted he spoke with God as he spoke with goats,
and was famous for his laugh.

Susan Williams 10 March 2016

Oh! ! ! I just found a diamond of a poem, see it sparkle and glow! Absolutely enthralled with the gentle and kind soul that writes diamonds out of mere words.

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Joe Breunig 04 January 2012

An enjoyable piece; having a conversation with God can be achieved in numerous ways - in any case, it still requires our time and a proper heart's attitude; nicely done. -Joe Breunig Reaching Towards His Unbounded Glory

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Sylvia Frances Chan 25 December 2018

Indeed, Different Ways To Pray. Magnificenttly described, perfectly formulated (not too long winded, not too concised) .I pray the way Jesus and His Disciples did, when they were in Jerusalem, I like the topic very much, thank you for sharing. Congratulations on being chosen as the Modern Poem Of The Day. Hurray! God's Blessings for thee and thy beloved family. A 10 Full Vote. Sincerely, Sylvia Frances Chan, NL, West-Europe.

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Savita Tyagi 25 December 2018

Indeed many different ways to pray. Blessed are the prayers that give strength to deal equally with pleasure and pain. A wonderful poem. Congratulations and Seasons greetings!

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Glen Kappy 25 December 2018

I like Naomi’s poetry in general, but this, of the ones I’ve read, is my favorite. It satisfies with crisp descriptive images, and the closing stanza has a bit of a surprise and makes me smile. -GK

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Keylen 29 April 2021

Cool Poem

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M Asim Nehal 20 April 2021

Insightful poem.

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Sylvia Frances Chan 19 April 2021

2) The Modern Poem Of The Day from Poem Hunter and Team. Really interesting poem! I have enjoyed very much this poem about the Islamic group. Thank you for sharing

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Sylvia Frances Chan 19 April 2021

The content is very fascinating, that of a country with islamic faith. Mecca, as a Muslim you should stay there to return with a clean and clean heart. Poems from other cultures are very interesting to read. Tribute to this poem, which has received

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Rose Marie Juan-austin 17 April 2021

Very perceptive write. Well crafted.

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Naomi Shihab Nye

Naomi Shihab Nye

St. Louis, Missouri
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