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photo by Michael Nye
Naomi Shihab Nye Palestinian-American writer, lives in San Antonio, Texas. Her recent books include You & Yours, Going Going, A Maze Me, 19 Varieties of Gazelle; Poems of the Middle East , a National Book Award finalist in 2002, Come with Me: Poems for a Journey, Fuel, Red Suitcase and Habibi ,a novel for teens which won 6 Best Book awards. She has edited seven anthologies of poetry for young readers, including This Same Sky , The Tree is Older than You Are, The Space Between our Footsteps: Poems & Paintings from the Middle East, What Have You Lost? and Salting the Ocean. A visiting writer for many years all over the world, she has been a Lannan Fellow, a Guggenheim Fellow and a Library of Congress Witter Bynner Fellow.

Your Weight, at Birth
English version

Your Weight, at Birth

Watching the Palestinian men
emerge from the Church of the Nativity,
I considered birth: being born into light again
after so many cramped weeks inside,
born into air & space,
how we wish the best for one another when someone
is being born, born into deportation & exile,
born, & banished.

Across the street, their women were wailing.
They could not greet or hug them.
The men were shuffled onto buses
to be sent away.
On the white & dusty street of Bethlehem,
where so many travelers have stood
holding candles, wrapped in song,
the prisoner men, in their own town.

An American TV announcer's voice sounded excited
to be present at the births -
over & over again
he hailed the table of sandwiches & bottled water
provided by Israeli soldiers
who actually looked perplexed
whenever the camera came in close.

One is born to wear a helmet, carry large artillery.
One is born to be thin, to wear raggedy clothes
& be shot in the leg. And some are born
to wonder, wonder, wonder.