Naomi Shihab Nye

Martita y Luisa

Martita, a carriage of windows is passing by!

Aye, aye, little sister,
tomorrow they will be al closed.
You will sing me the song
of the folded bug.

Martita, the river is crayons,
the color blue will make me a boat!

And it will sink, little sparrow,
there are holes in the bottoms of boats
that are wider than our names. Even a name
like Martita.

All day they spin marbles among stones.

Who is the street-weeper?
Where does he sleep from morning till night?

He lives in a shadow room.
His mouth is the moon that is almost gone.

Where does the mailman put down his bag?

In the cemetery, on the grave of a child
who never learned to read or write.

Why does the Chinese woman 
with a bandana knotted on her head
push a cartload of cabbages
six miles every day?

They will wilt if she does not get there.

But where? Where is she going
in the sun, in the rain?

Now you come to the question made of ice.
It melts if I tell you.
Better to keep a few things floating,
a few things for the future,
little sister, your turn.

A marble blue as a birthday sky
swallowed by grass.

You were born before me.
Does that mean you die first too?

At the hour when mothers scrabble in cupboards,
tilting the jars of oil,
light falls down among trees
like an old washed sheet.
All night it will be drying
in the cracks where lives come together,
where things are lost and never claimed.
Each sister thinks the other has it
in her pocket. Goodnight little world
of lizards, as they brush the hair,
as they snap the gowns they will wear
into the other country, pulling each other
by long long hands.