A Poem for the International Day of Friendship

In 2011, the International Day of Friendship was declared by the UN General Assembly, to be celebrated on July 30, as part of its Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace: “Recognizing the relevance and importance of friendship as a noble and valuable sentiment in the lives of human beings around the world.”

Naomi Shihab Nye (1952 –  ), born in St. Louis, Missouri. Daughter of a father who came to America as a Palestinian refugee, and a born-in-America mother. “I grew up in St. Louis in a tiny house full of large music – Mahalia Jackson and Marian Anderson singing majestically on the stereo, my German-American mother fingering ‘The Lost Chord’ on the piano as golden light sank through trees, my Palestinian father trilling in Arabic in the shower each dawn.” During her teens, Shihab Nye has lived in Ramallah in Palestine, the Old City in Jerusalem, and now lives in San Antonio, Texas, where she earned her BA in English and world religions from Trinity University.

To read Naomi Shihab Nye’s poem “Red Brocade” click:

Red Brocade

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.

“Red Brocade” from Everything Comes Next: Collected and New Poems, © 2020 by Naomi Shihab Nye – Greenwillow Books

photo – traditional Moroccan mint tea

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Nona Blyth Cloud has lived and worked in the Los Angeles area for over 50 years, spending much of that time commuting on the 405 Freeway. After Hollywood failed to appreciate her genius for acting and directing, she began a second career managing non-profits, from which she has retired. Nona has now resumed writing whatever comes into her head, instead of reports and pleas for funding. She lives in a small house overrun by books with her wonderful husband.
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