Naomi Shihab Nye is one of my favorite poets, and her poem about Kansas is particularly significant to me now in many ways. Enjoy!


Driving across the center of Kansas

at midnight, we’re talking about

all our regrets, the ones we didn’t marry,

who married each other, who aren’t happy,

who should have married us.

Ah, it’s a tough world, you say,

taking the wrong road.

Signposts appear and vanish, ghostly,


I’m not aware it’s the wrong road,

I don’t live here,

this is the flattest night in the world

and I just arrived.

Grain elevators startle us,

dark monuments

rimmed by light.

Later you pull over

and put your head on the wheel.

I’m lost, you moan. I have no idea where we are.

I pat your arm.

It’s alright, I say.

Surely there’s a turn-off up here somewhere.

My voice amazes me,

coming out of the silence,

a lit spoon,

here, swallow this.

Words Under the Words, 8th Mountain Press, 1995