Business

Photo by Pieter Stockmans

“Syrian refugees go about their business in 
a refugee camp in Mafraq, Jordan . . .” 

Ropes on poles, jeans & shirts flapping in wind.
He sits on a giant bag of rice, head in hands. 

Too much or too little, rips & bursts & furrows. 
Something seared in a pan. 

If you knew a mother, any mother, you would care
for mothers, yes? No.  

What it is to be lonesome for stacked papers
on a desk, under glass globe, 

brass vase with standing pencils,
new orders. 

How quickly urgencies of doing disappear. 
And where is the child from the next apartment,

whose crying kept him awake
these last terrible months?  

Where do you file this unknowing?

Naomi Shihab Nye is the Young People’s Poet Laureate through the Poetry Foundation (Chicago). Her most recent book is Everything Comes Next: Collected and New Poems (Greenwillow, 2020). Aziz Shihab’s last book was Does the Land Remember Me? A Memoir of Palestine (Syracuse University Press, 2007).

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