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The Rider

A boy told me
if he roller-skated fast enough
his loneliness couldn’t catch up to him,

the best reason I ever heard
for trying to be a champion.

What I wonder tonight
pedaling hard down King William Street
is if it translates to bicycles.

A victory! To leave your loneliness
panting behind you on some street corner
while you float free into a cloud of sudden azaleas,
pink petals that have never felt loneliness,
no matter how slowly they fell.

—Naomi Shihab Nye

from Fuel: Poems by Naomi Shihab Nye, 1998
Boa Editions, Rochester, NY

Copyright 1998 by Naomi Shihab Nye.
All rights reserved.

Reprinted by permission of BOA Editions from Fuel: poems by Naomi Shihab Nye, 1998. Copyright 1998 by Julie Lechevsky. For further permissions information, contact Steven Huff, BOA Editions, Ltd., 260 East Ave., Rochester, NY 14604,

Poetry 180

About the Poet

Naomi Shihab Nye (1952- ) is the author of ten poetry collections, including Transfer (BOA Editions, 2011). In addition to her poetry collections, Nye has produced fiction for children, poetry and song recordings, poetry translations, and essays.

Learn more about Naomi Shihab Nye at The Poetry Foundation.