The Power of Poetry as Connection: Naomi Shihab Nye

I am drawn to the poem "Shoulders" by Naomi Shihab Nye as it reminds me of the notion of what it means to 'carry' another. It speaks to the deep connection we have when caring for someone. I had the pleasure of working with Naomi as part of Bread for the Journey at Kirkridge in the Fall of 2015. She was so present and at ease, I felt as if I had met an old friend. I am also mindful of Naomi's immigrant heritage, and her enormous generosity of spirit and sense of humor--which lead me to share a link to a fabulous podcast, a link to a second poem of hers, titled "Gate A4", along with these questions for reflection:

  • What does it mean to 'carry' each other?
  • Is each of us willing to carry and be carried?
  • Which is harder for us?



A man crosses the street in rain,
stepping gently, looking two times north and south,
because his son is asleep on his shoulder.

No car must splash him.
No car drive too near to his shadow.

This man carries the world's most sensitive cargo
but he's not marked.
Nowhere does his jacket say FRAGILE,

His ear fills up with breathing.
He hears the hum of a boy's dream
deep inside him.

We're not going to be able
to live in this world
if we're not willing to do what he's doing
with one another.

The road will only be wide.
The rain will never stop falling.

  - Naomi Shihab Nye
Naomi Shihab Nye

Naomi Shihab Nye