The Stolen Camera

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The Stolen Camera

by Naomi Shihab Nye

Since the camera was stolen

everything is a photograph—

pink bloom against white stucco,

serious face of the potato chip man

leaning over his cart.

In the square, gypsies with brilliant skirts

twirl among palm trees.

I reach for the camera, to hand it to you,

but it is gone, stolen by a thief

who knows nothing of lenses.

Are you thinking of the camera?

I ask you once,

and you nod.

You will not mention it.

Two days ago you caught

the shriveled saint who kissed your hand,

the Twins of Bougainvillea laughing

in their windowsill

Your camera had careful eyes,

and now the pictures are stolen inside it,

babies who will never be born.

How would I feel if they stole my pens?

My lips would go on making words,

when I crossed the dappled street,

words everywhere, steps

or yellow leaves.

Today we pass the monastery silently.

Maybe we are soaking up light,

brief angles of sun on stone.

Maybe tonight when we sleep

all we have seen will arrange itself

inside us, quick trails of stars,

and we will wake glowing,

the world in our eyes.

Popayan, Colombia


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