Office 337, Wheeler Hall, Berkeley


I live in a room of abandoned things,
typewriters with jammed ribbons,
clocks that won't wind.
Shelves of books inscribed,
"To Clark, with respect and good wishes."
Clark has moved to another building
without them.

Each day students weave stories
beneath my window.
A boy asks a girl if her interest in him
is growing, and she says, "No."
He should come up and sit
in my office awhile.
Here he could learn what it is to be
a green vinyl chair losing its stuffing.

I like this room so much
I fling the window high
to let the sky in.
Join me, I say.
Whatever leaves us
leaves us both.
I open the door of my heart
so the losses march out.
Now when the call comes
saying my tricky cat is dead,
when the fuschia blossoms
make pink tombs in the grass,
a question I asked years ago
is being answered.

Today a gray nest
fell out of a spruce at my feet.
I lifted it, traced the hollow
where a bird once sat,
and looked up.
The tree was very tall.

I brought the nest to my office,
circled it with eucalyptus leaves
that had also fallen,
fragrant grace notes–
buried my face
in this shrine of knitted twigs
and sang the song
to all things that are gone:
Tu-ra-lu-ra-lu-ra,
it says, you make a short time
seem long.


Naomi Shihab Nye, Words Under the Words: Selected Poems, The Eighth Mountain Press, 1995.