Vox Populi: A Public Sphere for Politics and Poetry
When I travel abroad, I will invoke
Ted’s poems at checkpoints:
yes, barns, yes, memory, gentility,
the quiet little wind among stones.
If they ask, You are American?
I will say, Ted’s kind of American.
No, I carry no scissors or matches.
Yes, horizons and dinner tables.
Yes, weather, the honesty of it.
Buttons, chickens. Feel free
to dump my purse. I’ll wander
to the window, stare out for days.
Actually, I have never been
to Nebraska, except with Ted,
who hosted me dozens of times,
though we have never met.
His deep assurance comforts me.
He’s not big on torture at all.
He could probably sneak into your country
when you weren’t looking
and say something really good about it.
Have you noticed those purple blossoms
in a clump beside your wall?
From Tender Spot published by Bloodaxe Books, England
Naomi Shihab Nye at a book signing in San Antonio, Texas in 2008