Able to Say It—missing Jack Myers

by Naomi Shihab Nye

So, the years go by and we find a few doors and windows.
Some are always open, some were never open.
Because we are crazy and stubborn,
we love the ones that won’t open most.

In our first house the word “crazy” was not allowed.
So I embrace it now.  Crazy, crazy!
It’s crazy we still have war on earth, crazy bombs, crazy ways
to waste our money.  We want people to like us

so we kill their clans to show we’re stronger, then maybe
they’ll like us.  Totally crazy.  When Jack was little
he climbed a tree, looked through the window
onto his own family.  They were saying words

he recognized, mother, father, but he felt
the strangeness of syllables attached to knowing,
and the emptiness of light and dark.
They did not know their son

was watching them so closely and he had already
disappeared, just a little, so years to come
might only amplify the distance.  I’d like to think
we give each other clues.  You drop your notes,

someone else finds them, makes more of them
than they were even to you.  Jack was brushing by
on a street, carrying everything we needed in his briefcase.
He had a ring of keys, a sack of shiny hinges,

tall folded ladder, file of riddles,
“What We Need To Find Out.”  He was whispering

and shouting at once.  If I was lost in a dark alley I would
have wished to find Jack.

And I did.  That accent which will never leave
your ear once you hear it.  Slant of syllable,
sharpened line, wry take on craziness that helps us
live with it even if we cannot cure, cannot fix,

are not supposed to say its name.