Muddy shoes and stolen flowers

Naomi Shihab Nye - well, I always think her words and thoughts are just gorgeous. This one is from 19 Varieties of Gazelle, her collection of poems about the Middle East. I love the story it tells, the picture I get in my head of these wild laughing school children with armfuls of stolen flowers. And whisper is such a fitting verb for dried flower petals. Just like the sound a pile of them makes, I think.

They Dropped It
A gardener appeared, waving his toothy rake.
Children with yellow bells in their hands
jumped the fence, snagging uniforms.
One boy trailed a purple vine.

They wouldn't be sorry,
pockets reeking jasmine,
mud staining shoes...
Who deserved flowers more?
Rich people who never came outside
or children stuck all day in school?

The sweaty gardener cursed them,
straightening branches.

Someone else lifted one large pink blossom
from the pavement beyond the fence,
found a scrap of tissue to wrap it in,
carried it home across the sea.

The dried petals lay on a table for months
whispering, Where are we?

- Naomi Shihab Nye

Poetry Friday round-up at Two Writing Teachers.


TadMack 10/03/2008 8:45 AM  

Oh, gorgeous, gorgeous. This woman's work always just awes me. And you're so right -- dried petals do whisper, in sort of velvet-clad voices...

Cloudscome 10/03/2008 12:19 PM  

*gasp* What that woman does with words!

Edge 10/03/2008 5:36 PM  

I'm still shivering.

Yat-Yee 10/03/2008 8:15 PM  

This makes me wonder why I bother trying to string words together at all, and at the same time, feel awed and glad that I want to do it.

odessa 10/04/2008 10:50 PM  

oh, so beautiful! this inspired me to write a poem about how we steal mangoes from a farm close to my elementary school -- fun times! thanks for sharing this.

Sarah Louise 10/09/2008 6:19 AM  

I adore NSN. Loved this. Reminded me of a MLK Jr quote that I can't ever find, about poor people needing beauty more than rich because their life is so hard.

Thanks for this!



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