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"Blood" by Naomi Shihab Nye

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Maddie Claire

on 21 March 2011

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Transcript of "Blood" by Naomi Shihab Nye

Naomi Shihab Nye
"A true Arab knows how to catch a fly in his hands,"
my father would say. And he'd prove it,
cupping the buzzer instantly
while the host with the swatter stared.

In the spring our palms peeled like snakes.
True Arabs believed watermelon could heal fifty ways.
I changed these to fit the occasion.

Years before, a girl knocked,
wanted to see the Arab.
I said we didn't have one.
After that, my father told me who he was,
"Shihab"—"shooting star"—
a good name, borrowed from the sky.
Once I said, "When we die, we give it back?"
He said that's what a true Arab would say.

Today the headlines clot in my blood.
A little Palestinian dangles a toy truck on the front page.
Homeless fig, this tragedy with a terrible root
is too big for us. What flag can we wave?
I wave the flag of stone and seed,
table mat stitched in blue.

I call my father, we talk around the news.
It is too much for him,
neither of his two languages can reach it.
I drive into the country to find sheep, cows,
to plead with the air:
Who calls anyone civilized?
Where can the crying heart graze?
What does a true Arab do now? The poem is a response to 9/11 and the attack on the World Trade Towers. The message the poet is trying to convey is: is violence really going to help things in the long run? Naomi Shihab Nye Naomi Shihab Nye was born on March 12, 1952 in St. Louis, Missouri. Her father was Palestinian and her mother American. While she was in high school, she lived in multiple places, such as Ramallah in Palestine, the Old City in Jerusalem and San Antonio, Texas, where she currently lives. She is the author of numerous books of poems and short stories, which have recieved many awards. Nye gives voice to her experience as an Arab- American through poems about her culture and heritage, peace and spirit. The use of simple words and ideas convey the depth of how bad things have gotten in the world. It also conveys how strange and perplexing the world can be. This poem raises the question of what religion and race have to do with a person's understanding of themself. The poet is questioning which sides of her life are inherited and which are brought about by politics and government. Her poems and short stories have appeared in various journals and papers throughout North America, Europe, the Middle East and the Far East. She has traveled to the Middle East and Asia 3 times for the U.S. Information Agency, promoting international goodwill through the arts. The literary devices used in this poem are: similes, metaphors, symbols and imagery.
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