Friendship Fortnight 2020: Red Brocade

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We invited Rajashree Gandhi, who participated in PeaceVerse a couple of years ago, to suggest poems we might include. She sent us four, saying: “…coincidentally, I have been collecting poems on friendship for my class around the same time. So I do happen to have some to share with you.” We will share them separately over the fortnight.

Red Brocade

by

Naomi Shihab Nye

 

The Arabs used to say,
When a stranger appears at your door,
feed him for three days
before asking who he is,
where he’s come from,
where he’s headed.

That way, he’ll have strength
enough to answer.
Or, by then you’ll be
such good friends
you don’t care.

Let’s go back to that.
Rice? Pine nuts?
Here, take the red brocade pillow.
My child will serve water
to your horse.
No, I was not busy when you came!

I was not preparing to be busy.
That’s the armor everyone put on
to pretend they had a purpose
in the world.

I refuse to be claimed.
Your plate is waiting.
We will snip fresh mint
into your tea.

 


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