The Art of Disappearing

By Naomi Shihab Nye

When they say Don’t I know you?
say no.

When they invite you to the party
remember what parties are like
before answering.

Someone telling you in a loud voice
they once wrote a poem.
Greasy sausage balls on a paper plate.
Then reply.

If they say We should get together
say why?

It’s not that you don’t love them anymore.
You’re trying to remember something
too important to forget.
Trees. The monastery bell at twilight.
Tell them you have a new project.
It will never be finished.

When someone recognizes you in a grocery store
nod briefly and become a cabbage.
When someone you haven’t seen in ten years
appears at the door,
don’t start singing him all your new songs.
You will never catch up.

Walk around feeling like a leaf.
Know you could tumble any second.
Then decide what to do with your time.

2 comments to The Art of Disappearing

  • kim

    This is mind-blowingly wonderful. I love the voice…almost like I can’t tell from where in the room it is coming. It seems both present and floating off above the tops of party-goers. Feeling like a leaf and like a cabbage is perfectly descriptive. This one is a keeper.

  • “It’s not that you don’t love them anymore. You’re trying to remember something too important to forget” Shihab Nye is one of my very favorite poets. She has such an exquisite way of going right to the heart, often tempered with brilliantly subtle humor. I quote many of her lines often. She is such a treasure to us all!

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