Published on Academy of American Poets (

Song Book

Tiny keyboard bearing the massive reverie of the past—
press one button, we’re carried away on a country road,
marching with saints, leaving the Red River Valley...
here is every holiday you hated, every hard time,
each steamy summer wish. You closed your eyes
in the wooden stairwell, leaning your head against the wall,
knowing a bigger world loomed. It’s still out there,
and it’s tucked in this keyboard too,
now we are an organ, now we are an oboe,
now we are young or ancient,
now we are smelling wallpaper in the house
our grandfather sold with every cabinet,
table and doily included,
but we are still adrift, floating,
thrum-full of longing layers of sound.


Copyright @ 2014 by Naomi Shihab Nye. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-a-Day on September 5, 2014.

About this Poem

“Last week a magical Casio keyboard came to stay in our house one night only. Some young friends manipulated the buttons so it began playing its entire 100 contained songs in automatic succession. Then a poem arrived as well.”

 —Naomi Shihab Nye 


Naomi Shihab Nye

Naomi Shihab Nye gives voice to her experience as an Arab-American through poems about heritage and peace that overflow with a humanitarian spirit.

Date Published: 2014-09-05

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