Creating connections through the arts and across cultures

Riehlife Bonus Poem of the Day: Naomi Shihab Nye’s “Red Brocade”

Photo by Arabian Nights pillows

"Hospitality and generosity are the true calling cards of the Middle East." --Naomi Shihab Nye
Missouri Writers Guild Conference Luncheon, April 12, 2008

Also see:

Does the Land Remember Me? (A Memoir of Palestine) by Aziz Shihab (her father)

Tasting the Sky by Ibtisam Barakat


–From 19 Varieties of Gazelle
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.

Click here to hear Richard Benjamin reciting Naomi Shihab Nye's "Red Brocade" on You Tube.

Copyright 2002 by Naomi Shihah Nye. Used with permission.

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