Friday, July 24, 2009


By Naomi Shihab Nye

Someone has been painting
across the backs of bus benches
blotting out the advertisements beneath
with green so the the strong silver letters
appear clearly at corners,
in front of taco stands
and hardware stores.

Whoever did this
must have done it in the dark,
clanging paint cans block to block
or a couple of sprays --
they must have really
wanted to do it.

Among the many distasteful graffiti on earth
this line seems somehow honorable.
It wants to help us.
It could belong to anyone,
Latinas, Arabs, Jews,
priests, glue sniffers.
Mostly I wonder about
what happened or didn't happen
in the painter's life
to give her this line.
I don't wonder about the person
who painted HIV under the STOPS
on the stop signs in the same way.


Did some miracle startle
the painter into action
or is she waiting and hoping?

Does she ride the bus with her face
pressed to the window looking
for her own message?

Daily the long wind brushes YES
through the trees.

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