Naomi Shihab Nye

For Rose on Magnolia Street

You ask me to remove my shoes
and it is correct somehow,
this stripping down in your presence.
Do you recognize in me
a bone, a window, a bell?

You are translating a child’s poem
about the color gray.
I float through your rooms,
peeking at titles, fingering the laces
you drape from your walls.

The first place I visited you,
a tree grew out of your bedroom,
hole cut in the ceiling.
Today there are plants in your bathtub.
Their leaves are thick and damp.

I want to plant myself beside you
and soak up some of your light.
When the streetlamps cross their hands,
when the uncles shuffle home from the market
murmuring of weather and goats,
you lean into a delicate shawl,
the letters people write you
begin glowing in their baskets.
Yesterday you wrote of the dog-man
who wanders everywhere
followed by a pack of seven hounds.
Soon you will tell us the secret
behind our grandmother’s soft hair.