American Life in Poetry: Column 107

BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE

Naomi Shihab Nye is one of my favorite poets. She lives in San Antonio, Texas, and travels widely, an ambassador for poetry. Here she captures a lovely moment from her childhood.

Supple Cord

My brother, in his small white bed,
held one end.
I tugged the other
to signal I was still awake.
We could have spoken,
could have sung
to one another,
we were in the same room
for five years,
but the soft cord
with its little frayed ends
connected us
in the dark,
gave comfort
even if we had been bickering
all day.
When he fell asleep first
and his end of the cord
dropped to the floor,
I missed him terribly,
though I could hear his even breath
and we had such long and separate lives
ahead.


We do not accept unsolicited submissions. American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (www.poetryfoundation.org), publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Reprinted from A MAZE ME, Greenwillow, 2005, by permission of the author. Copyright Naomi Shihab Nye, whose most recent book of poetry is You and Yours, BOA Editions, Ltd., 2005. Introduction copyright © 2017 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction's author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006.