The Old Familiar

Hello again. It’s been a few days, and I keep wondering what poet I should post here. There’s not much left of April, and I can’t let it play out until I post a poem from Naoimi Shihab Nye. I love her work. I read it when I feel a deep ache and I can’t ease the ache. Reading her poetry doesn’t ease the ache so much as say to me, yes, you ache, it’s OK.

Yes, parenting is our theme, and when I think of parenting I think how often I wander back to my childhood as I parent. How I call on it, see it, use it and sometimes transform it into something new now. This poem is about the sibling bond. It speaks to that ache I have with my brothers so far away, how I feel our connection even when we are silent. That thread is there even when we don’t call, don’t write, don’t talk. There’s sustenance there with no communication needed.

Enough said. Here she is, one of my favorite poets on the planet:

Supple Cord

My brother, in his small white bed,
held one end.
I tugged the other
to signal I was still awake.
We could have spoken,
could have sung
to one another,
we were in the same room
for five years,
but the soft cord
with its little frayed ends
connected us
in the dark,
gave comfort
even if we had been bickering
all day.
When he fell asleep first
and his end of the cord
dropped to the floor,
I missed him terribly,
though I could hear his even breath
and we had such long and separate lives

Naomi Shihab Nye



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