Of Pears and Tender Spots
There are a lot of poems out there with pears in them, and references to pears. Oranges are perhaps more frequent, and apples inevitable, but pears also leave their trace. They are easily bruised, tender things, they are in the shape of tear drops, and many of us might see our body shape in them. A pear might ripen suddenly. One waits for pears.
But today is for this next powerful poem by Naomi Shihab Nye:
by Naomi Shihab Nye
“Let’s be the same wound if we must bleed.
Let’s fight side by side, even if the enemy
is ourselves: I am yours, you are mine.”
— Tommy Olofsson, Sweden
I’m not interested in
who suffered the most.
I’m interested in
people getting over it.
Once when my father was a boy
a stone hit him on the head.
Hair would never grow there.
Our fingers found the tender spot
and its riddle: the boy who has fallen
stands up. A bucket of pears
in his mother’s doorway welcomes him home.
The pears are not crying.
Later his friend who threw the stone
says he was aiming at a bird.
And my father starts growing wings.
Each carries a tender spot:
something our lives forgot to give us.
A man builds a house and says,
“I am native now.”
A woman speaks to a tree in place
of her son. And olives come.
A child’s poem says,
“I don’t like wars,
they end up with monuments.”
He’s painting a bird with wings
wide enough to cover two roofs at once.
Why are we so monumentally slow?
Soldiers stalk a pharmacy:
big guns, little pills.
If you tilt your head just slightly
There’s a place in my brain
where hate won’t grow.
I touch its riddle: wind, and seeds.
Something pokes us as we sleep.
It’s late but everything comes next.
This poem is from her book, Red Suitcase, which came out in 1994. I think it has so much still to teach us. Would that we all had a place in our brain where “hate won’t grow.”
What would happen if we grew wings from our tender spots, from our hurts, and from the hate of others?
“Why are we so monumentally slow?” The question still bears asking.
“It’s late but everything comes next.”