Wednesday, March 19, 2008

the slow, human, road to peace

One last one, and then I'll try to post something different.

One of the reasons I love Nye's work so much, I think, is that she captures that blending of the domestic and the public. The interconnectedness of life. The way that pain cannot be separate, and war will never touch only the "enemy." Everything spills over -- how we live our lives, stir our lentils, teach our children, becomes our path to peace or death. There are no lines, so don't bother with the chalk, or stones, or barbed wire fences. We -- all of us -- are the face of humanity. And the only possible future.

How Long Peace Takes

As long as a mirror opening its eye
to stretch a room lengthwise

As long as the slow crawl of loosening paint
and the bending of slim wax tapers

As long as blue thread spinning
a vine of birds up one seam down the other
and the bodice don't forget the bodice
doubly thick with wings and hidden treasure

As long as my Sitti twists her hanky
around two small gold coins
in the bed in the bed
and says she is not tired

As long as the bed
and all the people who slept in it

As long as the spitting of almonds
the stirring of lentils
the scent of marimea
and the Universal Laundry

As long as the question -- what if I
were you? -- has two heads

As long as the back of the skull is
vulnerable and the temple and the chest

As long as anyone feels exempt
or better and one pain is separate
from another and people are pressed flat
in any place

And longer

If every day the soldier slaps
another cousin's face

-Naomi Shihab Nye
(19 Varieties of Gazelle)

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