Poem of the Month: December

“Every day we should hear at least one little song, read one good poem, see one exquisite picture,
and, if possible, speak a few sensible words.”
— Goethe

This was the poem I originally selected for November but sometimes you go with what feels right for that moment. Naomi Shihab Nye has long been a favorite poet (who I actually got to meet once). I came across this poem from a talk she did a while ago. She shares a story of how she was asked to contribute a happy poem to a poetry collection based on the theme of happiness. The editors discovered there weren’t a lot of “happy” poems out there. I love this poem for its nod to the season’s turning, for the gratitude of happiness provided, and the reminder that it always there should we choose it.


Small Basket of Happiness

by Naomi Shihab Nye

It would never call your name.

but it would be waiting somewhere close,

perhaps under a crushed leaf

turned from pale green to gold

with no fanfare.

You hadn’t noticed

the gathered hush

of a season’s tipping.

Shadows flowing past

before any light came up,

people whom only a few

might remember,

so much accompaniment

inside a single breeze.

All whom we loved.

In the quiet air lived

the happiness they had given.

And would still give, if only.

You would slow down a minute.

You would bend.



(Poem by Naomi Shihab Nye. Photograph by Chris Barbalis.)

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