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

Rights & Access

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. 

  • Naomi Shihab Nye

    Naomi Shihab Nye (1952- ) is the author of more than 10 poetry collections, including Everything Comes Next: Collected and New Poems (Greenwillow Books, 2020). In addition to her poetry collections, Nye has produced fiction for children, song recordings, poetry translations, and essays.