Naomi Shihab Nye

Naomi Shihab NyeLittle sister Ibtisam,
our sleep flounders, our sleep tugs
on the cord of your name.
Dead at thirteen, for staring through
 the window into a gun barrel
which did not know you wanted to be
a doctor.

I would smooth your life in my hands,
pull you back. Had I stayed in your land
I might have been dead too,
for something simple like staring
or shouting what was true
and getting kicked out of school.
I wandered the stony afternoons
owning all their vastness.
Now I would give them to you,
guiltily, you. not me.

Throwing this ragged grief into the street,
scissoring news stories free from the page,
but they live on my desk like letters, not cries.

How do we carry the endless surprise
of all our deaths?Becoming doctors 
for one another, Arab, Jew,
 instead of guarding tumors of pain
as if they hold us upright?

Little sister, once our supple fingers
 curled around any twig.
Now even the orchards weep.
People in other countries speak easily
of being early, being late.
Some will live to be eighty.
Some who never saw it will not forget your face.

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