For Connor James Nye, 3 months old
You smile at everyone. When lifted, toted,
you hold onto shoulder or sleeve,
gazing curiously, each room or face.
Irish sheep, stuffed puppy, your daddy’s clown.
Dwelling in a tender current of care,
you know nothing of cruelties people do
to one another.
You did not see the intricate avenues of Aleppo.
Tiled ceilings, arching rooms. The villages of Palestine
could still be neatly terraced in your brain.
When you smile, we might all be wishing each other well.
When you startle at a loud sound,
await the power of softness
to settle you down. There is no other power in your world.
Hunger, interest, kicking, joy. Carry me there.
If your eyes fall heavily closed, sweet rescue
in the dozing. What we might remember
if we tried much harder.
In your dream no one is a refugee.
Everyone has clean sheets.
Naomi Shihab Nye
Naomi Shihab Nye’s father Aziz Shihab was born in Jerusalem, Palestine, in 1927. His last book Does the Land Remember Me?: A Memoir of Palestine (Syracuse University Press) was published only months before his death. He raised a writer daughter who attended St. Tarkmanchatz Armenian School in the Old City of Jerusalem when in high school. Her novel Habibi has been translated into four languages - she has edited eight anthologies of poetry for young readers, and her collection 19 Varieties of Gazelle: Poems of the Middle East was a finalist for the (American) National Book Award.