Jewels from Cast Away: Poems for Our Time

I admit I’m not a big poetry reader. But there was something about Naomi Shihab Nye’s collection Cast Away: Poems for Our Time that called to me.

How wonderful it is to read the reminder that everyone can do something to help our planet. Everyone has the ability to go out into the world, and at the very least, pick up trash. And everywhere we look, there are stories to be found. 

This week I’d like to share just a few of the jewels in this collection:

From “Three Wet Report Cards on Camden Street”:

“feeling great sadness

for the hard work of teachers

filling in so many little boxes

dreary evaluating and judging

when what teachers love best

is that spark of discovery

that great question

the shy person

finally speaking from the stage”

From “Central School”:

“On top of the can right there, a hand-lettered dictionary,

flipped open to the L page, and every

most important word

of life lined up handwritten — Love, Learn, Lose, Laugh

and thrown away. How could anyone

throw that away? A neat little dictionary —

I took it. Thought about second grade being the 

best grade, how the world opened wide in second grade,

and we stood in dignity reciting poems to one another,

Loving Language, and our teacher Mrs. Lane told us,

Don’t worry if you make a mistake. We had Smile Day.”

And my favorite, from “Nothing”:

“Nothing a child

ever does

is trash.

It is


Lessons Learned

“Now, my bandaged leg was tender and sore, and walking was more like a slow, laborious shuffle.

‘I know it’s hard now, but it will get better. This will pass,’ Ryan said. His tone was soft. Soothing.

I bit my lip, took a breath, and smiled.

Those were all the same words I have spoken to Ryan each time he’s been sick. Reminders that he’s not alone. Reminders that I’ll see him through it. Reminders that the discomfort (whether it was a high fever, a bout of vomiting, or a hard coughing) would pass and wouldn’t last forever.”

The passage above is taken from my personal essay, “Lessons Learned,” a reminder that our children are always watching, always listening, always learning from the adults in their lives. I’m proud to say my essay was recently published at MUTHA Magazine. Click here to read the essay in its entirety.