Naomi Shihab Nye is a poet and professor of Creative Writing at Texas State. Her father was Palestinian and a refugee journalist. In one of her poems after 9/11, entitled “Blood,” she writes:
I call my father, we talk around the news.
It is too much for him,
neither of his two languages can reach it.
I drive into the country to find sheep, cows,
to plead with the air:
Who calls anyone civilized?
Where can the crying heart graze?
What does a true Arab do now?
I myself tried to write something for the 15 year “commemoration” of the US war against Iraq, but wasn’t able to complete it. It was too much for me. A couple of months ago I was invited to go to the Northwest to speak about “Fifteen Years After the War.” It was too much for me emotionally, and somewhat shamefully I had to decline.
As I write, I have the phone next to me. I am texting a young Iraqi boy who is alone in Turkey. About ten months ago he was kidnapped in Iraq. Through a chain of events, he ended up in Syria. About two months ago his father was contacted and was able to get his son smuggled across the border into Turkey. Last month his son turned 18 years of age and was eligible to register as a refugee with UNHCR. But he will not get an interview for many months to come.
Traumatized, missing family and without friends, he tells his family he wants to come home. But it is much too dangerous for him to return. Trying to draw him out of his boredom, I ask him to tell me…