Naomi Shihab Nye

(12 March 1952 / St. Louis, Missouri)

Making A Fist - Poem by Naomi Shihab Nye

We forget that we are all dead men conversing wtih dead men.
—Jorge Luis Borges

For the first time, on the road north of Tampico,
I felt the life sliding out of me,
a drum in the desert, harder and harder to hear.
I was seven, I lay in the car
watching palm trees swirl a sickening pattern past the glass.
My stomach was a melon split wide inside my skin.

'How do you know if you are going to die?'
I begged my mother.
We had been traveling for days.
With strange confidence she answered,
'When you can no longer make a fist.'

Years later I smile to think of that journey,
the borders we must cross separately,
stamped with our unanswerable woes.
I who did not die, who am still living,
still lying in the backseat behind all my questions,
clenching and opening one small hand.


Comments about Making A Fist by Naomi Shihab Nye

  • Mahtab Bangalee (5/27/2018 5:18:00 AM)

    Years later I smile to think of that journey,
    the borders we must cross separately,
    stamped with our unanswerable woes.
    (Report)Reply

    0 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • Rajesh Thankappan (6/1/2016 10:20:00 PM)

    A very touching poem indeed. The road of life often offers bumpy ride and if we can negotiate it, well done! (Report)Reply

    2 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • (2/11/2016 7:05:00 PM)

    ...........excellent poem....I could never ride in the back seat again ★ (Report)Reply

    1 person liked.
    1 person did not like.
  • Pranab K Chakraborty (2/2/2013 8:46:00 PM)

    Beautiful. The doctrine to fix the fist of existence. It's a feast of positive thought.........................................................Pranab k c (Report)Reply

    4 person liked.
    4 person did not like.
  • Savita Tyagi (2/2/2013 10:50:00 AM)

    Very nice! A mother's simple loving conversation can stay with a child for ever. (Report)Reply

    8 person liked.
    1 person did not like.
  • (2/8/2008 9:03:00 AM)

    Yea................ >.< (Report)Reply

    3 person liked.
    8 person did not like.
  • (11/27/2007 7:01:00 PM)

    very...nice......really nice...i wish naomi didnt use religions in it tho -_- (Report)Reply

    7 person liked.
    10 person did not like.
Read all 7 comments »



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: journey, car, smile, mother, time, life, travel, tree



Poem Submitted: Monday, January 20, 2003

Poem Edited: Wednesday, January 4, 2012


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. If
    Rudyard Kipling
  7. Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening
    Robert Frost
  8. Do Not Stand At My Grave And Weep
    Mary Elizabeth Frye
  9. Television
    Roald Dahl
  10. I Do Not Love You Except Because I Love You
    Pablo Neruda
[Report Error]