If you had to choose a poem for Earth Day what would it be? From my limited collection of poetry I have chosen Shoulders by Naomi Shihab Nye. It reminded me of Atlas and his burden – I share the popular misconception that he shoulders the earth (rather than the celestial spheres). Naomi Shihab Nye shoulders hope in her poetry. She says that her poems often begin with the voices of her neighbours, “always inventive and surprising”.
A man crosses the street in rain,
stepping gently, looking two times north and south,
because his son is asleep on his shoulder.
No car must splash him.
no car drive too near to his shadow.
This man carries the world’s most sensitive cargo
but he’s not marked.
Nowhere does his jacket say FRAGILE,
HANDLE WITH CARE.
His ear fills up with breathing.
He hears the hum of a boy’s dream deep inside him.
We’re not going to be able
to live in this world
if we’re not willing to do what he’s doing
with one another.
The road will only be wide.
The rain will never stop falling.
this poem is from Red Suitcase