Saturday 17 March 2007

The Art of Disappearing

The Art of Disappearing

When they say Don't I know you?
say no.

When they invite you to the party
remember what parties are like
before answering.
Someone telling you in a loud voice
they once wrote a poem.
Greasy sausage balls on a paper plate.
Then reply.

If they say we should get together.
say why?

It's not that you don't love them any more.
You're trying to remember something
too important to forget.
Trees. The monastery bell at twilight.
Tell them you have a new project.
It will never be finished.

When someone recognizes you in a grocery store
nod briefly and become a cabbage.
When someone you haven't seen in ten years
appears at the door,
don't start singing him all your new songs.
You will never catch up.

Walk around feeling like a leaf.
Know you could tumble any second.
Then decide what to do with your time.

Naomi SHIHAB NYE, “Words Under The Words”
The Eighth Mountain Press – A Far Corner Book
Portland, Oregon 1995


  1. I do not want to disappear though....

  2. Wise words indeed! I tell people at parities I am a truck driver.. that shuts em up.. ;o)

  3. You can start a whole blogland discussion with this poem.....

  4. britt-arnhild:
    Me neither. :-)
    In today's New York Times Sunday Book Review, reviewer Brenda Wineapple cites from Ralph Pite's Thomas Hardy biography this quote:
    Writing,” he says of Hardy, “resolved the conflict he felt between loneliness and the frightening self-forgetfulness that social life could bring about.”
    In my interpretation it is the frightening self-forgetfulness that social life could bring about that the poem speaks of, and this is what I would not want to be caught in, i.e. disappear from.

  5. Simon:
    Right you are. :-)
    When I was a kid I heard a song with the title "Lieben Sie Partys", "Do you love parties?, and couldn't understand why somebody would call them "criminal". Couple years later, I do. ;-)
    I googled and found the lyrics,
    here, written by Daliah Lavi, the singer, herself. She has a very interesting voice, and the text is really great, I'll have to look for a CD.
    Thanks for jolting my memory. :-)

  6. gypsy purple:
    Yes, and why not?
    "Lieben Sie blogs?" ;-)

  7. Those images are beyond beautiful.

    PS I hope that when I show up at your door, you won't turn into a cabbage. Promise me, okay?

  8. Thank you, Maryam!
    Don't worry, I'll be at my best hostess incarnation, in tulip dress maybe?

  9. the day after having a house full of people..what a perfect poem to find!

  10. Savannah,
    I'm sure that doesn't have anything to do with the people you had over. Maybe a double espresso will help to tide you over til evening? (Honestly, I'd rather go for a mint julep on your porch!)

  11. those words...I can relate to those. I actually don't attend those many parties...( yeah in Indian context I am already labled loner...and weird...) and few which I do and on being asked what I do...I say " Vella panti" its a slang...which means I don't do anything and thats why I am!

  12. Walk around feeling like a leaf.
    Know you could tumble any second.
    Then decide what to do with your time.
    This is a very powerful line.
    Merisi, these photos of yours...most compelling, what is this flower?
    It has a other-worldly quality.


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