“A Palestinian Might Say”

Many of us who read the Common Good Reader come from places where we observe conflict from afar. This vantage point often makes simple things appear complicated, as news anchors and political commentators attempt to translate the world for us. Poet Naomi Shihab Nye reminds us that it is our neighbor who deserves our ear, even if that neighbor is half way around the world.

A Palestinian Might Say
by Naomi Shihab Nye

You don’t feel at home in your country,
almost overnight?
All the simple things
you cared about,
maybe took for granted. . .
you feel
insulted, invisible?
Almost as if you’re not there?
But you’re there.
Where before you mingled freely. . .
appreciated people who weren’t
just like you. . .
divisions grow stronger.
That’s what “chosen” and “unchosen” will do.
(Just keep your eyes on your houses and gardens.
Keep your eyes on that tree in bloom.)
Yes, a wall. Ours came later but. . .
who talks about how sad the land looks,
marked by a massive wall?
That’s not a normal shadow.
It’s something else looming over your lives.

This poem was first published online by the Poetry Foundation.

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