So yesterday I did a PD session after school for some new ELL teachers. I began by telling a story completely in Thai. Upon seeing their blank looks, I pulled out some visuals to help. The story was about Ariel the Little Mermaid, and I used a Little Mermaid doll, and Eric doll, and a toy ship (thank you to my kids for letting me steal their stuff) as well as gestures and actions to help get my point across. When I started speaking in English again, I told them I’d been an MK in Thailand. (What I didn’t tell them was that my Thai has gotten really rusty!)
Afterwards one of the teachers came up to me and told me she’d been an MK in India and she had visited Thailand a couple of times! I was thrilled to find a fellow MK! We discovered that both of us went overseas around 5th/6th grade and both of us went to international schools. And both of us had been one of the few white students at our schools. I was like, “We need to go out for coffee sometime!”
At any rate, I’ve been thinking a lot about Thailand now, and so for Poetry Friday I picked the poem “Two Countries” from Naomi Shibab Nye. What I love about this poem is that it may not about two physical countries at all, but two people. Read and enjoy . . .
by Naomi Shihab Nye
Skin remembers how long the years grow
when skin is not touched, a gray tunnel
of singleness, feather lost from the tail
of a bird, swirling onto a step,
swept away by someone who never saw
it was a feather. Skin ate, walked,
slept by itself, knew how to raise a
see-you-later hand. But skin felt
it was never seen, never known as
a land on the map, nose like a city,
hip like a city, gleaming dome of the mosque
and the hundred corridors of cinnamon and rope.
Skin had hope, that’s what skin does.
Heals over the scarred place, makes a road.
Love means you breathe in two countries.
And skin remembers–silk, spiny grass,
deep in the pocket that is skin’s secret own.
Even now, when skin is not alone,
it remembers being alone and thanks something larger
that there are travelers, that people go places
larger than themselves.
Find the rest of the Poetry Friday poems here.