Honey. Beeswax. Pollinate. Hive. Colony. Work. Dance. Communicate. Industrious. Buzz. Sting. Cooperate.
Where would we be without them? Where would we be without one another?
In eighty-two poems and paragraphs, Naomi Shihab Nye alights on the essentials of our time—our loved ones, our dense air, our wars, our memories, our planet—and leaves us feeling curiously sweeter and profoundly soothed.
Your Buddy Is Typing
Your buddy in the early hours. Your buddy with the scratchy throat who didnt sleep well. On the other side of the earth he is rising, making a single cup of coffee, sitting down at a small wooden table. Your buddy who hasnt shaved in weeks. Your buddy in Nuevo Laredo missing the old days the easy crossings of borders the wanderings in streets without fear. Your buddy who doesnt want to see any bullets is typing a letter he will not sign. Your buddy with the aching wrist. Your buddy with high hopes watching sun come up over calm water thinking, well make it, maybe. Your buddy who sends 17 letters in 14 days. A surge of random observations but nothing is random. No one alone. The bold buddy and the shy one with a closet of stacked pages. The young buddy whose grandfather the great writer has been hiding for years. Your buddy in Japan who wishes your heart to feel like a primrose. Your buddy in Glasgow eating a radish as he types in golden light. Your buddy in a head scarf begging for sense. Your buddy in a sari who bosses the men. Your buddy who types with three fingers like you do. Your buddy in Australia your weary buddy in the airport lounge your buddy in the village library your buddy in the wireless hotel room where even the rod under the clothes lights up your buddy on the brink your buddy who was reminded what words could do after he swore they could do nothing anymore your buddy in Bethlehem who wonders if anyone listens your buddy who is feeling weak your buddy who tells what is really going on behind the scenes your buddy who refuses to back down your lost buddy who wont speak to you punishing you for reasons unknown even she must be typing to someone else by now, trust in this as you say good-bye give it up, typing will help you get through it no matter where you are when the restaurants close and the little shops you loved bolt their doors for the last time and the artist you wish youd known better dies suddenly, you grip the memory of minor messages sent back and forth only months ago. Who else should you be typing to right now? Who else is on the way out? All of us. Everyone typing in the late and early in the far reaches in the remote unknowns in the heart of the diagnosis near the fishing huts with Catch of the Day signs the names of fish scrawled on blackboards by the whispering sea.
Someone You Will Not Meet
Rolls her socks into balls,
lines them in a shoebox.
Sharpens a yellow pencil
carefully checking the point.
There used to be plenty of pencils.
Stares into a mirror thinking fat nose, fat nose.
Pins a green bow to her head,plucks it off again.
Worries about loud noises.
Wraps presents in the same crumpled paper
over and over again for members
of her own family.
Gives her brother an orange because
he likes them more than she does.
He complains, I am sick of this life.
She fusses at him, Dont say that.
Gives her mother a handwritten booklet
made of folded papers called
The people she loves most are in it.
The uncles who come and go are in it.
They are afraid every time they go
but they brave it.
A few cats and plants and rugs are in it,
square television set with a scrappy picture,
and the streams of bees swooping
to the jasmine vine
right outside the window.
They dip into blossoms and fly away.
Never could she have imagined being jealous
of a bee.
She listens to the radio say there will be
though no one she knows likes fighting.
Does anyone feel happy after fighting?
Its a mystery.
She chews on a sesame cookie
very very slowly.
Staring at the sesame seeds
she could almost give them