Happy Poetry Friday! (Wondering what Poetry Friday is? Click here.)
I just finished reading Traveling the Blue Road: Poems of the Sea, a powerful recent Lee Bennett Hopkins anthology. Wow. I love the ocean so much, and these poems about ocean voyages and voyagers really touched me. Having just visited a refugee camp on an island in the Mediterranean Sea recently (photos below), Naomi Shihab Nye’s poem especially resonated with me.
If you are the child of a refugee, you do not
sleep easily when they are crossing the sea
on small rafts and you know they can’t swim.
My father couldn’t swim either. He swam through
sorrow, though, and made it to the other side
on a ship, pitching his old clothes overboard
at landing, then tried to be happy, make a new life.
But something inside him was always paddling home,
clinging to anything that floated – a story, a food or face.
They are the bravest people on earth right now,
don’t dare look down on them. Each mind a universe
swirling as many details as yours, as much love for
a humble place. Now the shirt is torn,
the sea too wide for comfort, and nowhere
to receive a letter for a very long time.
And if we can reach out a hand, we better.
–Naomi Shihab Nye, from Traveling the Blue Sea, all rights reserved
The asylum seekers we ate lunch with, a mother and father and two young sons who had escaped Syria, were so gracious. The father told us about their journey (the walk to Turkey, the harrowing, stormy boat journey on an overcrowded boat, the long wait they are still on to be classified as refugees), and it was sobering and heartbreaking. Naomi’s poem, especially “They are the bravest people on earth right now,
don’t dare look down on them,” feels so true.
There are many other wonderful poems in this anthology–look for it. And for more terrific poems right now, don’t miss the Poetry Friday Roundup with poet-educator Margaret Simon at Reflections on the Teche!