The Art Of Disappearing // Naomi Shihab Nye

The work of Naomi Shihab Nye (who calls herself a “wandering poet”) has a distinct warmth to it. Her poems have a soft tumble to them, sonically, and are easy to connect with because her poetry’s concerns are so incredibly human. She pays great attention to the ordinary and speaks of it in a fresh, interesting way. Many of her poems are also concerned with war, peace, loss, and lineage. Here is a poem of Nye’s that, as an introvert, I have always loved. It does great work in making me feel whole and validated in my desire for silence and space.


The Art Of Disappearing (Naomi Shihab Nye)

When they say Don’t I know you?

say no.

When they invite you to the party
remember what parties are like
before answering.

Someone telling you in a loud voice
they once wrote a poem.
Greasy sausage balls on a paper plate.
Then reply.

If they say we should get together.
say why?

It’s not that you don’t love them any more.
You’re trying to remember something
too important to forget.
Trees. The monastery bell at twilight.
Tell them you have a new project.
It will never be finished.

When someone recognizes you in a grocery store
nod briefly and become a cabbage.
When someone you haven’t seen in ten years
appears at the door,
don’t start singing him all your new songs.
You will never catch up.

Walk around feeling like a leaf.
Know you could tumble any second.
Then decide what to do with your time.

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