In Morning


The Palestinian child
does not think about being Palestinian,
but only of how his kitten
slept last night
and why is it not
in its basket.
Before he walks to school,
he will find it playing
with neighbor kittens
outside his house
and make sure it has breakfast.

The Ukrainian child
checks her doll
in its crib
which is really a box
shoes once lived in
and tucks
the blanket
which is really a napkin

The Libyan child
thought he lived in a desert,
so how could his house wash away,
the Moroccan child
never dreamed a building so old
with such fat walls
could fall,
the child of Maui
never wears socks
but someone has given him
He misses
his old messy room
which he would clean up right now
if he still had it.

Each morning
we put ourselves together.
Try to imagine
what we will do,
gathering things,
no one explains.
Scary things
feel farther away
in morning.
We try not to worry.

Wash face
brush teeth,
be as good as possible
because the stones
lined up
by the grandfathers
are still somewhere
and the wind from the west
is still your friend
and the little gray bird
pecking at a crumb
said something
we almost understood.

Naomi Shihab Nye is a Palestinian American writer, editor, and educator who grew up in St. Louis, Jerusalem, and San Antonio, where she continues to live. She has been Poetry Foundation’s Young People’s Poet Laureate, and poetry editor for the New York Times Magazine, and the Texas Observer.
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