WestWords Perfect February Pair

In the spotlight today is American poet Naomi Shihab Nye, born in 1952 in Missouri, to a Palestinian father and an American mother. Nye is the author of numerous books of poems, including You and Yours, 2005, which received the Isabella Gardner Poetry Award; 19 Varieties of Gazelle: Poems of the Middle East, 2002 and, here’s an interesting one, Hugging the Jukebox, 1982. In addition to her poetry collections, Nye has produced fiction for children and has edited several anthologies, including the award-winning This Same Sky,1992, which contains translated work by 129 poets from sixty-eight countries. This poem is:

By Naomi Shihab Nye

The river is famous to the fish.

The loud voice is famous to silence,
which knew it would inherit the earth
before anybody said so.
The cat sleeping on the fence is famous to the birds
watching him from the birdhouse.
The tear is famous, briefly, to the cheek.

The idea you carry close to your bosom
is famous to your bosom.

The boot is famous to the earth,
more famous than the dress shoe,
which is famous only to floors.

The bent photograph is famous to the one who carries it
and not at all famous to the one who is pictured.

I want to be famous to shuffling men
who smile while crossing streets,
sticky children in grocery lines,
famous as the one who smiled back.

I want to be famous in the way a pulley is famous,
or a buttonhole, not because it did anything spectacular,
but because it never forgot what it could do.

Music written by German born British composer Max Richter for the 2011 Kim Fupz Aakeson movie Perfect Sense starring Eva Green and Ewan McGregor. Luminous is the last song on the soundtrack.