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Also by Naomi Shihab Nye:
My Friend's Divorce | Keep Driving | Why the Silence Still Hangs Over Eastern Oregon

Why the Silence Still Hangs Over Eastern Oregon

In the picture
one shoulder of Chief Young Joseph
droops lower than the other
"Due to a childhood injury falling
from a horse."


An interpreter kneels
beside him as a woman in a huge skirt
conveys bad news.

I hope the words hurt her throat.
I hope she was forced to repeat them
till her whole tongue burned.

He who had grown up with talkative rivers
valleys, green mountains
wearing delicate cloud-caps
had to tell his people next.
He had to tell his people.

White tipis at Wallowa
shine in the lake's dark eyes.
To this day it is impossible to gaze
into that water easily.

Chief Young Joseph did not like Kansas
one bit.
He said, "I think very little of this country."

Printed in the Spring/Summer 1997 issue of CLR

Naomi Shihab Nye

Naomi Shihab Nye resides in San Antonio, Texas. Her books of poems include Different Ways to Pray, Hugging the Jukebox (selected for the National Poetry Series by Josephine Miles), Yellow Glove, Red Suitcase, and Words Under the Words.

She was the recipient of the Lavan Award from the Academy of American Poets and appeared in the PBS series "The Language of Life" with Bill Moyers.

You can find Naomi Shihab Nye on the web at:
—  American Academy of Poets
—  Voices from the Gaps
—  HarperChildrens
—  Organica News
—  Amazon
—  Barnes & Noble
—  The Atlantic Monthly
—  The Austin Chronicle
—  Washington Post

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