Making a fistFor the first time, on the road north of Tampico, I felt the life sliding out of me,
a drum in the desert, harder and harder to hear.
I was seven, I lay in the car
watching palm trees swirl a sickening pattern past the glass.
My stomach was a melon split wide inside my skin.
“How do you know if you are going to die?”
I begged my mother.
We had been traveling for days.
With strange confidence she answered, “When you can no longer make a fist.”
Years later I smile to think of that journey,
the borders we must cross separately,
stamped with our unanswerable woes.
I who did not die, who am still living,
still lying in the backseat behind all my questions,
clenching and opening one small hand. Naomi Shihab Nye is my current favorite newly discovered poet. I discovered her reading O in a doctor’s office. This poem shows why she inspired me it is a poet’ s view of helping a child stay strong and how a parent’s words can last a life time.