poetry Before I Was a Gazan
Before I Was a Gazan
By Naomi Shihab Nye
I was a boy
and my homework was missing, paper with numbers on it, stacked and lined,
I was looking for my piece of paper, proud of this plus that, then multiplied, not remembering if I had left it
on the table after showing to my uncle or the shelf after combing my hair
but it was still somewhere
and I was going to find it and turn it in, make my teacher happy,
make her say my name to the whole class, before everything got subtracted
in a minute even my uncle even my teacher
even the best math student and his baby sister who couldn’t talk yet.
And now I would do anything for a problem I could solve.
Naomi Shihab Nye's father was a Palestinian refugee expelled from his home in Jerusalem in 1948 by Israeli occupying forces. Later in life Aziz Shihab would volunteer as press attache for Doctors Without Borders in Gaza. Naomi urges everyone to read the Gazan poet, Mosab Abu Toha, whose book Things You Might Find Hidden in My Ear was published by City Lights Press, San Francisco, and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in 2022.