Fuel

Naomi Shihab Nye, Author BOA Editions $17 (65p) ISBN 978-1-880238-63-9
""What will be forgotten/ falls over me/ like the sky/ over our whole neighborhood,"" writes Nye in her sixth full-length collection, lamenting the memories that will disappear with departing Texas neighbors. Nye, who is also a noted YA novelist and anthologist of poems for children (The Space Between Our Footsteps: Poems and Paintings from the Middle East, Forecasts, Mar. 2), spent part of her adolescence with family in Palestinian Jerusalem, and in another poem likens memories to the ""broken bits,/ chips"" swept away by the glass seller on the Via Dolorosa. But even as her speaker evokes a world that's fading from recollection and struggles to abide a life where ""our tea has trouble being sweet,"" she finds wry consolation in ""Pancakes with Santa"" (""What else can we say to Santa?/ Santa says ain't""), and can take pleasure in watching a man letter a sign in Arabic and English. Such small-scale multi-ethnic negotiations run through the collection--from the Japanese city of Yokohama to Hebron and back to the poet's San Antonio home--and offer microcosmic takes on larger conflicts: ""No one hears the soldiers come at night/ to pluck the olive tree from its cool sleep./ Ripping up its roots. This is not a headline/ in your country or mine."" Nye's witnessings of everday life and strife never quite acquire collective force, yet they convey a delicate sense of moral concern and a necessary sense of urgency. (June)
Reviewed on: 06/01/1998
Release date: 06/01/1998
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