Two Countries

Naomi Shihab Nye

 
Skin remembers how long the years grow
when skin is not touched, a gray tunnel
of singleness, feather lost from the tail
of a bird, swirling onto a step,
swept away by someone who never saw
it was a feather. Skin ate, walked,
slept by itself, knew how to raise a
see-you-later hand. But skin felt
it was never seen, never known as
a land on the map, nose like a city,
hip like a city, gleaming dome of the mosque
and the hundred corridors of cinnamon and rope.
Skin had hope, that's what skin does.
Heals over the scarred place, makes a road.
Love means you breathe in two countries.
And skin remembers--silk, spiny grass,
deep in the pocket that is skin's secret own.
Even now, when skin is not alone,
it remembers being alone and thanks something larger
that there are travelers, that people go places
larger than themselves.
 
From Words Under the Words: Selected Poems by Naomi Shihab Nye. Published by Far Corner. Reprinted with permission of the author. Copyright © 1995 Naomi Shihab Nye.

Poems by This Author

Alive by Naomi Shihab Nye
Dear Abby, wrote someone from Oregon
Arabic by Naomi Shihab Nye
The man with laughing eyes stopped smiling
Blood by Naomi Shihab Nye
Burning the Old Year by Naomi Shihab Nye
Letters swallow themselves in seconds
Daily by Naomi Shihab Nye
These shriveled seeds we plant
Famous by Naomi Shihab Nye
The river is famous to the fish
Fuel by Naomi Shihab Nye
Even at this late date, sometimes I have to look up
Gate A-4 by Naomi Shihab Nye
Wandering around the Albuquerque Airport Terminal, after learning
Haunted by Naomi Shihab Nye
We are looking for your laugh.
How Palestinians Keep Warm by Naomi Shihab Nye
Choose one word and say it over
Kindness by Naomi Shihab Nye
Before you know what kindness really is
Lying While Birdwatching by Naomi Shihab Nye
Making a Fist by Naomi Shihab Nye
For the first time, on the road north of Tampico,
Many Asked Me Not to Forget Them by Naomi Shihab Nye
Where do you keep all these people?
Negotiations with a Volcano by Naomi Shihab Nye
We will call you "Agua" like the rivers and cool jugs
San Antonio by Naomi Shihab Nye
Tonight I lingered over your name,
Shoulders by Naomi Shihab Nye
A man crosses the street in rain
Snow by Naomi Shihab Nye
Once with my scarf knotted over my mouth
Streets by Naomi Shihab Nye
A man leaves the world
The Man Whose Voice Has Been Taken From His Throat by Naomi Shihab Nye
remains all supple hands and gesture
The Rider by Naomi Shihab Nye
A boy told me
The Traveling Onion by Naomi Shihab Nye
When I think how far the onion has traveled
The Words Under the Words by Naomi Shihab Nye
My grandmotherís hands recognize grapes
Valentine for Ernest Mann by Naomi Shihab Nye
Wedding Cake by Naomi Shihab Nye
Once on a plane


Further Reading

Thanks and Gratitude
A List of Praises
by Anne Porter
A Toast
by Ilya Kaminsky
Around Us
by Marvin Bell
Dusting
by Marilyn Nelson
For the Fallen
by Laurence Binyon
For the Twentieth Century
by Frank Bidart
Lift Every Voice and Sing
by James Weldon Johnson
Mass for the Day of St. Thomas Didymus [excerpt]
by Denise Levertov
Rabbi Ben Ezra
by Robert Browning
Slow Waltz Through Inflatable Landscape
by Christian Hawkey
Starfish
by Eleanor Lerman
Thank You For Saying Thank You
by Charles Bernstein
Thanks
by W. S. Merwin
Thanksgiving Letter from Harry
by Carl Dennis
The Culture of Glass
by Thylias Moss
The Routine Things Around the House
by Stephen Dunn
The Teacher
by Hilarie Jones
The Thanksgivings
by Harriet Maxwell Converse
The Triumph of Time
by Algernon Charles Swinburne
Visiting Pai-an Pavilion
by Hsieh Ling-yun
What Was Told, That
by Jalalu'l-din Rumi
Pockets
A Sock Is a Pocket for Your Toes [excerpt]
by Elizabeth Garton Scanlon
At the Playground, Singing for Psychiatric Outpatients
by Peter Everwine
At the Public Market Museum: Charleston, South Carolina
by Jane Kenyon
Blankets of Bark
by Sherwin Bitsui
Broadway
by Mark Doty
Chaplinesque
by Hart Crane
Go Greyhound
by Bob Hicok
Gospel
by Philip Levine
Inventing Father In Las Vegas
by Lynn Emanuel
Pockets
by Howard Nemerov
Regarding Chainsaws
by Hayden Carruth
The Waltz We Were Born For
by Walt McDonald