If you are the child of a refugee, you do not
sleep easily when they are crossing the sea
on small rafts and you know they can’t swim.
My father couldn’t swim either. He swam through
sorrow, though, and made it to the other side
on a ship, pitching his old clothes overboard
at landing, then tried to be happy, make a new life.
But something inside him was always paddling home,
clinging to anything that floated – a story, a food or face.
They are the bravest people on earth right now,
don’t dare look down on them. Each mind a universe
swirling as many details as yours, as much love
for a humble place. Now the shirt is torn,
the sea too wide for comfort, and nowhere
to receive a letter for a very long time.
And if we can reach out a hand, we better.
Naomi Shihab Nye (born March 12, 1952) is a poet, songwriter, and novelist. She was born to a Palestinian father and an American mother.Nye has won many awards and fellowships, among them four Pushcart Prizes, the Jane Addams Children’s Book award, the Paterson Poetry Prize, and many notable book and best book citations from the American Library Association,and a 2,000 Witter Bynner Fellowship In 1997, Trinity University, her alma mater, honored her with the Distinguished Alumna Award.In June 2009, Nye was named as one of PeaceByPeace.com’s first peace heroes. In 2013, Nye won the Robert Creeley Award. She was named laureate of the 2013 NSK Neustadt Prize for Children’s Literature.