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Naomi Shihab Nye



The river is famous to the fish.


The loud voice is famous to silence,   

which knew it would inherit the earth   

before anybody said so.   


The cat sleeping on the fence is famous to the birds   

watching him from the birdhouse.   


The tear is famous, briefly, to the cheek.   


The idea you carry close to your bosom   

is famous to your bosom.   


The boot is famous to the earth,   

more famous than the dress shoe,   

which is famous only to floors.


The bent photograph is famous to the one who carries it   

and not at all famous to the one who is pictured.   


I want to be famous to shuffling men   

who smile while crossing streets,   

sticky children in grocery lines,   

famous as the one who smiled back.


I want to be famous in the way a pulley is famous,   

or a buttonhole, not because it did anything spectacular,   

but because it never forgot what it could do.


Naomi  Shihab Nye, "Famous" from Words Under the Words: Selected Poems by Naomi Shihab Nye, copyright © 1995.  Used with permission of Far Corner Books.

Naomi Shihab Nye (born 1952) is an American poet, novelist, song writer, and editor. She has written or contributed to over 30 books. Born in Missouri, her father was a Palestinian refugee and her mother an American of German and Swiss descent. She has lived in San Antonio, Texas, for nearly fifty years.

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