red-suitcase

Shoulders

A man crosses the street in rain,
stepping gently, looking two times north and south,
because his son is asleep on his shoulder.
No car must splash him.
No car drive too near to his shadow.
This man carries the world’s most sensitive cargo
but he’s not marked.
Nowhere does his jacket say FRAGILE,
HANDLE WITH CARE.
His ear fills up with breathing.
He hears the hum of a boy’s dream
deep inside him.
We’re not going to be able
to live in this world
if we’re not willing to do what he’s doing
with one another.
The road will only be wide.
The rain will never stop falling.

—Shoulders, by Naomi Shihab Nye, from Red Suitcase, 1994

 

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And then…there was a red suitcase in the front yard. What was in that suit case?

Red Suitcase

“Please, 
Don’t….

Don’t leave me,”
I cry, as you walk away,
Carrying that Red Suitcase.

You don’t even turn around.
Just keep walking,
Leaving now, for god knows where,
Leaving me, a crying mess,
In your wake.

But I know, that you’ll be back,
Carrying that self-same red suitcase,
Tears in your eyes, begging to have you back,
Because you can’t pack your life,
In a Red Suitcase,
And just walk away.

And even though you think they will,
Memories, our memories, will never, ever fit,
Into a Red Suitcase for you to take away. 

Because I can’t,
And I won’t,
Have my life torn asunder,
By that Infernal Red Suitcase.

Because I can’t,
And I won’t,
Lose you again.

“poems hide. In the bottoms of our shoes,
they are sleeping. They are the shadows
drifting across our ceilings the moment
before we wake up. What we have to do
is live in a way that lets us find them.”

Naomi Shihab Nye, from “Valentine for Ernest Mann,” in Red Suitcase

(Image: Thank you, barnesandnoble.)

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SHOULDERS

A man crosses the street in rain,
stepping gently, looking two times north and south,
because his son is asleep on his shoulder.

No car must splash him.
No car drive too near to his shadow.

This man carries the world’s most sensitive cargo
but he’s not marked.
Nowhere does his jacket say FRAGILE,
HANDLE WITH CARE.

His ear fills up with breathing.
He hears the hum of a boy’s dream
deep inside him.

We’re not going to be able
to live in this world
if we’re not willing to do what he’s doing
with one another.

The road will only be wide.
The rain will never stop falling. 

Poem | “Shoulders” by Naomi Shihab Nye, from Red Suitcase.