Maybe you were the little girl
who stuck her foot in the sand
and said, This is it.
Full horizon, gravity tug,
this is the place.
What came next?
Some of us stutter to get to the next day.
Moving water held your gaze.
People could pray any direction at all.
Lights at Shangri La
Each beacon an oasis of comfort.
Someone hammered this line of triangles,
gave shape to glistening. Someone imagined
a future corner might be dark.
Lights for marking edges,
Here, camels smiled all night.
You could travel thousands of miles
then return to a covey of shining birds
chattering at dusk in the trees.
Her Father Still Watching
For Doris Duke, whose father's last words were said to have been, "Trust no one"
You can trust me, said white marble
Trust us more, said black volcanic rocks
The palm tree said, I deserve nothing but trust
And the clouds drifting swiftly
held their trust sacred
Your amazing mind
saw into time
Each room of your house
hammered metal lamps
revelations in space
sealing of cracks
constellations of color
slopes of grass
white marble stairs
A chocolate spigot
deep turquoise pool
heavy faucet handles
as if you're still with us
Could pleasure in beauty
be the true central time zone?
In the Damascus Room
Who else has written a poem 60 years long?
Walt Whitman revised Leaves of Grass all his life.
He reviewed it as if he were someone else.
Doris Duke revised the stanzas of her house
again and again, shrine of light,
sofa a perfect welcoming word.
She cleansed surfaces with a Q-tip,
a dipped rag. She directed, re-aligned.
Moved the tile. Changed the arch.
If only such respect for the beauty of Damascus
could have saved that great city
so much pain.
Naomi Shihab Nye has been the Young People's Poet Laureate for the Poetry Foundation (2019-2022) and is on faculty at Texas State University. Her recent books include The Turtle of Michigan, The Tiny Journalist (which won Best Poetry Book awards from the Texas Institute of Letters and the Writers League of Texas), Everything Comes Next: Collected & New Poems, Cast-Away, and Voices in the Air. She is poetry editor for The Texas Observer.