Naomi Shihab Nye’s newest novel, The Turtle of Oman, was just published, and Naomi is on the road talking about it. And writing poems about the experience.
There’s a gentle young man in a black shirt
who didn’t listen very well
when he was in middle school
but wants to listen better.
Now I know, he says, I hope to be a writer.
I didn’t know that then. What should I do?
There’s a boy with an iPad who won’t lift his gaze
but follows his mother who says he’s very creative.
At first they are my only people and I know
we will have a good time. Then a bouncy mom enters
with four kids in tow and Tony, age 7, ready to ask
if writing my book was hard but also, do I know how
to make bricks? There’s a gracious woman from a book club
who says she rushed her lunch to get here and wishes she
brought the whole club. There’s a librarian who fills in the back row
for honor’s sake and a few random women drifting in late
and it’s a sweet sense of people who will never again
be in the same room together, and I love it, and don’t wish for more.
This is my destiny. And afterwards a rough-looking fellow,
ripped jeans sagging off thin hips, FEAR GOD tattoo
streaking his arm, browsing the table of tiny turtles
I brought for display, holding them one by one, saying,
These are really cool, I was sitting at the computers,
I heard every word you said, and
it was true.