Last August Hours Before the Year 2000

By Naomi Shihab Nye b. 1952
Spun silk of mercy,
long-limbed afternoon,
sun urging purple blossoms from baked stems.   
What better blessing than to move without hurry   
under trees?
Lugging a bucket to the rose that became a twining   
house by now, roof and walls of vine—
you could live inside this rose.
Pouring a slow stream around the
ancient pineapple crowned with spiky fruit,   
I thought we would feel old
by the year 2000.
Walt Disney thought cars would fly.

What a drama to keep thinking the last summer   
the last birthday
before the calendar turns to zeroes.
My neighbor says anything we plant
in September takes hold.
She’s lining pots of little grasses by her walk.

I want to know the root goes deep   
on all that came before,
you could lay a soaker hose across   
your whole life and know
there was something
under layers of packed summer earth   
and dry blown grass
to moisten.

Naomi Shihab Nye, “Late August Hours before the Year 2000” from You and Yours. Copyright © 2005 by Naomi Shihab Nye. Reprinted with the permission of BOA Editions Ltd., www.boaeditions.org.

Source: You & Yours (BOA Editions Ltd., 2005)

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Poet Naomi Shihab Nye b. 1952

Subjects Nature, Time & Brevity, Living, Summer

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Naomi Shihab Nye

Biography

Naomi Shihab Nye was born in St. Louis, Missouri in 1952. Her father was a Palestinian refugee and her mother an American of German and Swiss descent, and Nye spent her adolescence in both Jerusalem and San Antonio, Texas. Her experience of both cultural difference and different cultures has influenced much of her work. Known for poetry that lends a fresh perspective to ordinary events, people, and objects, Nye has said that, . . .

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SUBJECT Nature, Time & Brevity, Living, Summer

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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