Naomi Shihab Nye

(12 March 1952 / St. Louis, Missouri)

Making A Fist - Poem by Naomi Shihab Nye

We forget that we are all dead men conversing wtih dead men.
—Jorge Luis Borges

For the first time, on the road north of Tampico,
I felt the life sliding out of me,
a drum in the desert, harder and harder to hear.
I was seven, I lay in the car
watching palm trees swirl a sickening pattern past the glass.
My stomach was a melon split wide inside my skin.

'How do you know if you are going to die?'
I begged my mother.
We had been traveling for days.
With strange confidence she answered,
'When you can no longer make a fist.'

Years later I smile to think of that journey,
the borders we must cross separately,
stamped with our unanswerable woes.
I who did not die, who am still living,
still lying in the backseat behind all my questions,
clenching and opening one small hand.


Comments about Making A Fist by Naomi Shihab Nye

  • Gold Star - 23,139 Points * Sunprincess * (6/5/2014 8:35:00 PM)

    ........a wonderful poem...loved the dialogue....enjoyed.. (Report) Reply

    2 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • Gold Star - 5,396 Points Pranab K Chakraborty (2/2/2013 8:46:00 PM)

    Beautiful. The doctrine to fix the fist of existence. It's a feast of positive thought.........................................................Pranab k c (Report) Reply

  • Gold Star - 8,885 Points Savita Tyagi (2/2/2013 10:50:00 AM)

    Very nice! A mother's simple loving conversation can stay with a child for ever. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Felix Nazario (2/8/2008 9:03:00 AM)

    Yea................ >.< (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Mika Nakishima (11/27/2007 7:01:00 PM)

    very...nice......really nice...i wish naomi didnt use religions in it tho -_- (Report) Reply

Read all 5 comments »



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Read poems about / on: journey, car, smile, mother, time, life, travel, tree



Poem Submitted: Monday, January 20, 2003

Poem Edited: Wednesday, January 4, 2012


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