I am happy to join Poetry Friday once more which is hosted this week by Violet Nesdoly who often shares her wonderful original poems with us. As the semester is about to begin and waves of work and deadlines would once again drown my inner voice and sense of quietude, I thought that a little honey from Naomi Shihab Nye’s Honeybee is in order, and so I borrowed this book from our public library.
I have to thank the Poetry Friday people for introducing me to the poems of Naomi Shihab Nye. Being a part of this affirming, vibrant, and ever-growing community has been that much needed space of quiet reflection for me. I enjoyed this book greatly, and I would often sneak in a few moments to read it during the day, no matter how busy I am. It is not only a collection of poems, it also contains a few short ‘essays’ or ‘prose’ that really served more like parables to me – with their pockets of wisdom, nuggets of truth, and varying shades of silence and grief and deliverance.
A key indicator for me that I have ‘bonded’ or connected with a poet is when I am inspired to see the world differently. I would even go as far as claim that I feel a key turning within me, unlocking a flood of emotions – yet holding that in place with fragile hands that gently channel those layers of pain to seep through slowly – with rhythm and grace and beauty.
This week, I’d like to share a reminder for us teachers, book-lovers, students, writers, avid readers to slow down and make time for silences and random acts of kindness. Here is Nye with her wise words:
The Problem of Muchness
One thing does not lead to another,
it leads to everything.
Days as pennies, grasses, tidal swells of speckled distraction,
and how could you waste time, really?
What did it mean to waste time?
If you stared at a soft beam of light crossing a floor,
was that looking wasted?
The concept of “catching up”
felt troublesome, too.
Catch up with what?
The yellow Post-it notes strewn across the desk?
I tried never to rush, never to think of more than one thing
at any given moment.
While brushing hair I remembered unsent letters.
While feeding the cat I saw weeds wagging their tongues.
— Naomi Shihab Nye (p. 112)
Here is another one which is part of her prose entitled We Are the People (p. 58) – I like this one because it ends with a question, or a challenge, even. And I’d love to hear what you have to say about it, dear friends. I am only sharing a fragment from the piece here:
One evening, after remembering there used to be a lovely thing in the sky called a “sunset,” I trundled to my front porch, sat on the top step with an icy glass of freshly squeezed limeade, some crushed mint leaves thrown in for good luck, and waited. The western sky rumpled and heaved, brewing elegantly, turning over, graying and pinking all at once. Maybe it was too cloudy for a sunset. Cars rolled past, going home from work. What a comforting, sometimes lonely hour.
Streaks of red shot out from behind the gray rumples. My neighbor walked past with her dog. “What’s wrong?” she called. I said, “What? Nothing.” She said, “Why are you sitting there like that?” I pointed at the sky. She looked at it and shrugged. “Oh. You look locked out.”
So ask yourself, you swirling tornado of a human being, in a world of disoriented honeybees, do you want to look locked out the minute you sit down?
I ask you. – pp. 60-61.