Making A Fist

We forget that we are all dead men conversing wtih dead men.
—Jorge Luis Borges

For the first time, on the road north of Tampico,
I felt the life sliding out of me,
a drum in the desert, harder and harder to hear.
I was seven, I lay in the car
watching palm trees swirl a sickening pattern past the glass.
My stomach was a melon split wide inside my skin.

'How do you know if you are going to die?'
I begged my mother.
We had been traveling for days.
With strange confidence she answered,
'When you can no longer make a fist.'

Years later I smile to think of that journey,
the borders we must cross separately,
stamped with our unanswerable woes.
I who did not die, who am still living,
still lying in the backseat behind all my questions,
clenching and opening one small hand.

by Naomi Shihab Nye

Other poems of NYE (45)

Comments (7)

Years later I smile to think of that journey, the borders we must cross separately, stamped with our unanswerable woes.
A very touching poem indeed. The road of life often offers bumpy ride and if we can negotiate it, well done!
...........excellent poem....I could never ride in the back seat again ★
Beautiful. The doctrine to fix the fist of existence. It's a feast of positive thought.........................................................Pranab k c
Very nice! A mother's simple loving conversation can stay with a child for ever.
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