Arabs in Finland

Hot tea
Photo by Kables/Flickr

Their language rolls out, 
soft carpet in front of them.
Strolling slowly beneath trees, 
men in white shirts, 
belts, baggy trousers,
women in scarves,
glinting cigarettes in the dusk.
What they left to be here, in the cold country,
where winter lasts forever,
haunts them in the dark –
golden hue of souk in sunlight,
gentle calling through streets that said, Brother,
Sister, sit with me a minute, on the small stool
with the steaming glass of tea. Sit with me.
We belong together.


Photo by Shevaun Williams

Naomi Shihab Nye is the laureate of the 2013 NSK Neustadt Prize for Children's Literature and author or editor of more than thirty books, one of which—19 Varieties of Gazelle: Poems of the Middle East—was a finalist for the National Book Award. Her novel Habibi, which members of the jury read when selecting her for the NSK Prize, has been translated into five languages and received five “Best Book” awards. Her most recent collections include There Is No Long Distance Now (short stories) and Transfer(poems). Nye has been a Lannan Fellow, a Guggenheim Fellow, and a Witter Bynner Fellow (Library of Congress). She has received a Lavan Award from the Academy of American Poets, the Isabella Gardner Poetry Award, the Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award, the Paterson Poetry Prize, four Pushcart Prizes, and numerous honors for her children’s literature, including two Jane Addams Children’s Book Awards. In 2009 Nye was elected to the Board of Chancellors of the Academy of American Poets.