“…I was not busy when you came…”

[Naomi Shihab Nye’s poem, “Red Brocade,” was part of an early service I recently attended. Given the current climate of immigration in Canada and abroad, I think this poem is worth sharing.]

 

The Arabs used to say,

When a stranger appears at your door,

feed him for three days

before asking him who he is,

where he’s from,

where he’s headed.

That way he’ll have enough strength

enough to answer.

Or, by then you’ll be

such good friends

you don’t care.

 

Let’s go back to that.

Rice? Pine Nuts?

Here, take the red brocade pillow.

My child will serve water

to your horse.

 

No, I was not busy when you came!

I was not preparing to be busy.

That’s the armour everyone puts on

to pretend they have a purpose

in the world.

 

I refuse to be claimed.

Your plate is waiting.

We will snip fresh mint

into your tea.

 

– “Red Brocade” by Naomi Shihab Nye, from 19 Varieties of Gazelle

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