Poem Therapy: Famous - Naomi Shihab Nye

The river is famous to the fish.
The loud voice is famous to silence,  
which knew it would inherit the earth  
before anybody said so.  
The cat sleeping on the fence is famous to the birds  
watching him from the birdhouse.  
The tear is famous, briefly, to the cheek.  
The idea you carry close to your bosom  
is famous to your bosom.  
The boot is famous to the earth,  
more famous than the dress shoe,  
which is famous only to floors.
The bent photograph is famous to the one who carries it  
and not at all famous to the one who is pictured.  
I want to be famous to shuffling men  
who smile while crossing streets,  
sticky children in grocery lines,  
famous as the one who smiled back.
I want to be famous in the way a pulley is famous,  
or a buttonhole, not because it did anything spectacular,  
but because it never forgot what it could do.
In our look at me! celebrity culture where we post and tweet and status update endlessly, I think it is more than enough to be famous for never forgetting what it is that we can do, and to be famous for our small kindnesses.

I write. I make art. I am a mother bear mother. I am a loyal friend.

It is enough that I am famous to my daughter, my family, my friends, acquaintances and colleagues.

Sometimes, I forget what it is that I can do, but then I remember.

I am back to my writing. I have published the first chapter from my novel in a literary journal. When I am finished writing the novel, I want it published. And read. I want it to be good. Better than good.

I don't need to be famous. It will be enough for my novel to be good. And to be read.


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