Naomi Shihab Nye is a poet, songwriter and novelist. Born to a Palestinian father and an American mother, she calls herself a “wandering poet, though San Antonio, Texas is both home and the inspiration behind many of her poems. “But everywhere can be home the moment you unpack, make a tiny space that feels agreeable,” says Nye. She was the recipient of the 2014 NSK Neustadt Prize for Children’s Literature. This poem is from the collection, Fuel.

Because of Libraries We Can Say These Things

She is holding the book close to her body,
carrying it home on the cracked sidewalk,
down the tangled hill.
If a dog runs at her again, she will use the book as a shield.

She looked hard among the long lines
of books to find this one.
When they start talking about money,
when the day contains such long and hot places,
she will go inside.
An orange bed is waiting.
Story without corners.
She will have two families.
They will eat at different hours.

She is carrying a book past the fire station
and the five and dime.

What this town has not given her
the book will provide; a sheep,
a wilderness of new solutions.
The book has already lived through its troubles.
The book has a calm cover, a straight spine.

When the step returns to itself,
as the best place for sitting,
and the old men up and down the street
are latching their clippers,

she will not be alone.
She will have a book to open
and open and open.
Her life starts here.

– Naomi Shihab Nye

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