Poem of the Week, by Naomi Shihab Nye


– Naomi Shihab Nye

The river is famous to the fish.

The loud voice is famous to silence,
which knew it would inherit the earth
before anybody said so.

The cat sleeping on the fence is famous to the birds
watching him from the birdhouse.

The tear is famous, briefly, to the cheek.

The idea you carry close your bosom
is famous to your bosom.

The boot is famous to the earth,
more famous than the dress shoe,
which is famous only to floors.

The bent photograph is famous to the one who carries it
and is not at all famous to the one who is pictured.

I want to be famous to shuffling men
who smile while crossing streets,
sticky children in grocery lines,
famous as the one who smiled back.

I want to be famous in the way a pulley is famous,
or a buttonhole, not because it did anything spectacular,
but because it never forgot what it could do.

For more information on Naomi Nye, please click here.


  1. oreo · May 21, 2011

    that is just frickin’ lovely. what a right way to start a dreary, wet Saturday.


  2. G · May 28, 2011

    “famous as the one who smiled back.”

    I’m putting that in my knapsack.


  3. alison · May 31, 2011

    Me too, Geoff. She’s one of my favorite poets. Look up her poem “Kindness” if you don’t already know it.


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