Last August Hours Before the Year 2000

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)
More Poems by Naomi Shihab Nye