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by Naomi Shihab Nye

A man letters the sign for his grocery
in Arabic and English.
Paint dries more quickly in English.
The thick swoops and curls of Arabic letters
stay moist and glistening
till tomorrow when the children
show up jingling their dimes.

They have learned the currency of the New World,
carrying wishes for gum and candies
shaped like fish.
They float through the streets,
diving deep to the bottom,
nosing rich layers of crusted shell.

One of these children will tell a story
that keeps her people alive.
We don't know yet which one she is.
Girl in the red sweater dangling a book bag,
sister with eyes pinned to the barrel
of pumpkin seeds.
They are lettering the sidewalk with their steps.

They are separate and together and a little bit late.
Carrying a creased note, "Don't forget."
Who wrote it? They've already forgotten.
A purple fish sticks to the back of the throat.
Their long laughs are boats they will ride and ride,
making the shadows that cross each other's smiles.