By Naomi Shihab Nye
Because the eye has a short shadow or
it is hard to see over heads in the crowd?
If everyone else seems smarter
but you need your own secret?
If mystery was never your friend?
If one way could satisfy
the infinite heart of the heavens?
If you liked the king on his golden throne
more than the villagers carrying baskets of lemons?
If you wanted to be sure
his guards would admit you to the party?
The boy with the broken pencil
scrapes his little knife against the lead
turning and turning it as a point
emerges from the wood again
If he would believe his life is like that
he would not follow his father into war
Naomi Shihab Nye, “Fundamentalism” from Fuel. Copyright © 1998 by Naomi Shihab Nye. Used by the permission of BOA Editions Ltd., www.boaeditions.org.
Source: Fuel (BOA Editions Ltd., 1998)
Naomi Shihab Nye’s mixed heritage—her father is Palestinian, her mother is American—shapes the subjects of her poetry. Through mostly free verse, Nye often writes about everyday life while addressing cultural issues. Nye has traveled extensively, including to the Middle East and Asia to promote goodwill through the arts. She is the Poetry Foundation's Young People's Poet Laureate.
More By This Poet
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Scholars debating Chinese zodiac,
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O lead them to a warm corner,
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You got that clean waistcoat,
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“Jesus Jim,” mam said,
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Through the car window,
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