Naomi Shihab Nye
“Think of something that you said. Now write
what you wish you had said.” –William Stafford
I wish I had said nothing.
Had not returned the call.
Had left the call dangling, a shirt from one pin.
And settled into the deep pink streaks of sundown
without a single word flying from my mouth.
The thousand small birds of January
in their smooth, soaring cloud
finding the trees.
Or if I had to say something,
only a tiny tiny thing. A well-shaped phrase.
Smoothed off at the edges like a child’s wooden
That nobody would get a splinter from.
No one has a deep wish to quote you accurately.
They want a good story.
It is not your story, really. It is theirs.
So they do not care if they run the four sentences
(one that you really said, then three loose ones you
their chatty questions with)
into one sentence as if you said all that
together. Like a speech.
It sounds good to them.
They do not care
how it sounds to you.
And you will have to live with it.
Foolishness ringing in your head.
Will not be able to sleep.
Nights on end. Nights standing on ends
like tops spun on pointy heads.
Will hate yourself for forgetting
this is what reporters do.
Will feel sudden sympathy for movie stars.
They do not care about you either.
But they have seen their words and silences defiled.
Will promise never again to answer questions
dashed across a phone line. Write it down.
Always write it down. Say it slowly. Say it
the way you learned words. Say it
as if words still count.
One two. The shoe still has
One two. The shoe still has/a buckle. This is from an English children's nursery rhyme. I just wanted to say that in case English isn't your first language or you've never heard of the rhyme, because if you don't know that, then the last two lines are rather strange.