Refugee Not Always


Our father
who was always our father
not always our father

not always
once a confident schoolboy
strolling Jerusalem streets

He knew the alleyways
spoke to stones
All his life he would pick up stones
and pocket them
On some he drew

What do we say in the wake of one
who was always homesick?
Are you home now?
Is Palestine peaceful in some dimension
we can’t see?
Do Jews and Arabs share the table?
Is holy in the middle?

This dedication is excerpted from Transfer by Naomi Shihab Nye. Copyright © 2011 by Naomi Shihab Nye. Used by permission of the poet.

This poem was originally read in the On Being episode “Your Life Is a Poem.”