Member of the Tribe

Unfortunately it’s true.
Like it or not.
Educated or not.
This is one of the many things
Americans don’t understand about Iraq.
Kill a member of the tribe,
the whole tribe now hates you.
How could they not?
The Americans think they hate you today,
thank you tomorrow.
Tribes are like tape recorders,
they won’t forget. Don’t ask me how
Arabs kill Arabs, knowing this.
As for Afghanistan,
I don’t understand that at all.
I don’t understand so many things.
Still, we must tell what we know.

“Member of the Tribe” from Transfer by Naomi Shihab Nye. Copyright © 2011 by Naomi Shihab Nye. Used by permission of the poet.

Listen to Naomi Shihab Nye’s On Being interview, “Your Life Is a Poem.”