Saturday, May 26, 2012

Nod briefly and become a cabbage

Sonoma, 2009

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 anymore.
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


  1. i dont much like that this idea of disappearing speaks to you today. when the disappearing wish comes to me, i am usually not in a good place. i hope this is not true for you. on the other hand, this poem, well, it might just be talking about freedom. that's a different notion altogether.


  2. Angella, if I feel like disappearing it's only because my kids are driving me nuts! Nothing serious, though -- and the poem spoke to me this morning in its quirkiness. It also speaks to that need to disappear from other's concern -- you know what I mean?

  3. I love the last stanza. It feels freeing.

  4. I took this for something that's been on my mind... so thank you for posting it Elizabeth.

  5. Very much how I feel lately. We are skipping a birthday party today, in fact. I have a tendency to automatically say yes to every invitation, but occasionally I come to my senses beforehand and only actually go to the things I want to go to.

  6. Uh- that is MY poem. Well, it should be. That is exactly how I feel these days.

  7. At times parts of this poem don't resonate with me - those times when I feel rather social and ready to party. But that last stanza never leaves my head or heart. I carry it with me like a compass.

  8. I love it. I'm throwing a birthday party for my husband tonight. Me, who hasn't done this since my ex's 40th fourteen years ago. I'm questioning my sanity, while telling myself it'll be so much fun. Is it tomorrow yet? Too late to become a cabbage??

  9. At times this is exactly who I am.

  10. Terrific! I love the idea of stepping back -- my zen teachers used to remind us that a withdrawal into silence and stillness, becoming a leaf or a cabbage, was often better than a mindless response. That's what this poem brings up for me, anyway.

    I have a little folder on my computer in which I put some of the poems I cut-and-paste from your posts! Elizabeth's poetry gallery!

  11. amazing. i often feel like a leaf but still haven't quite figured out what to do with my time.



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