Poets & Writers

A Poet a Day: Naomi Shihab Nye

'My Grandmother in the Stars'

A Poet a Day: Naomi Shihab Nye

During these trying days of social distancing, self-isolating and quarantines, days rife with fear and anxiety, my colleagues and I thought you might like some company. So each day we will be introducing you to poets we have met over the years. The only contagion they will expose you to is a measure of joy, reflection and meditation brought on by “the best words in the best order.” Enjoy.
— Bill Moyers

In this clip, we hear from poet Naomi Shihab Nye. Born of a Palestinian father and an American mother, Nye lives in San Antonio, Texas. Before reading the poem, Nye recalls her grandmother, who was born in Palestine in 1888 and lived to be 106 years old.

“My Grandmother in the Stars”

It is possible we will not meet again
on earth. To think this fills my throat
with dust. Then there is only the sky
tying the universe together.

Just now the neighbor’s horse must be standing
patiently, hoof on stone, waiting for his day
to open. What you think of him,
and the village’s one heroic cow
is the knowledge I wish to gather.
I bow to your rugged feet,
the moth-eaten scarves that knot your hair.

Where we live in the world
is never one place. Our hearts,
those dogged mirrors, keep flashing us
moons before we are ready for them.
You and I on a roof at sunset,
our two languages adrift,
heart saying, Take this home with you,
never again,
and only memory making us rich.

Watch Bill’s full interview with Naomi Shihab Nye.
(Video is an excerpt from NOW with Bill Moyers, 2002)

See all poets in the A Poet a Day Collection.