andrea and the words she was seeking

Posted on Thursday, January 24, 2013

In brainstorming about a post on reading and the many ways this simple yet often taken for granted act enriches life, I realized how difficult it would be to put this into words.  Everyone’s experience is a different one. Everyone’s tastes can be extraordinarily different. To try to sum up the significance of reading in just one person’s life would be an immense undertaking. Yet, here I was composing a post about it while on the treadmill, while driving home, while making eggs and toast for breakfast.


 Why do we read? Well, why do we eat? Why do we sleep? Why do we love? There’s a long and elaborate list as to why we do these things, but the simple fact is that these activities are essential to our survival. Yes, words can save lives. They can rescue us from others, and from ourselves.


My thinking out loud and debating with myself continued throughout the day. My eyes were weary from staring at my laptop screen all afternoon. My mind was exhausted. I sat down to read the last handful of pages from Fuel by Naomi Shihab Nye. I allowed myself to to get lost in the stories she artfully weaves within her poems, and then I came upon these lines in the final stanza of the poem “String”:


Just then a light clicked on inside tall windows     draped tablecloth

pitcher of flowers     lace of evening spinning its intricate spell

inside our blood and what we smelled was earth and rain sunken into it

run-on sentence of the pavement     punctuation of night and day

giving us something to go by     a knot in the thread

although we did not live in that house


And in six lines Naomi Shihab Nye says what I couldn’t find the words for all day.

Written by Andrea Beltran


Behind the scenes

Andrea reminds us that nature is a book.  When opening my morning window, I open my daily book.  When sitting on my porch, I’ve turned the page.  The falling leaves are emerging poetry.  A friendly conversation is a song.

No one is illiterate in this wild life.  Whether diving into a favorite novel or while on the treadmill, life is an endless source of messages coming to us from all angles.  Each time we wake, and even in our dreams, we are offered a sentence to absorb or one to give.

While Naomi Shihab Nye found the words for Andrea that day, Andrea too has offered what others have needed.  In Andrea’s poem, “Breakfast Pairings she offers advice with her hands, when she writes; “Baked eggs in bread bowls/I can make babies in my heart, but not in my body.”  Reading these words suggests hope in sadness.  Let us not limit our words through limiting letters, but in soaked eggs, and hand-squeezed grapefruit, in the unsaid words, in powerful lyrics of the heart.

From the words of Theodore Roosevelt, “I am a part of everything that I have read.”  Thank you, Andrea, for sharing a part of you with me.  May we continue to be the song, the poem, the right words we aren’t always able to find in ourselves, knowing that at any moment, we’ll eventually become that very source we were seeking.

To read more of Andrea’s insights, poems and favorite books, follow her at Andrea Beltran.



feature image, nocturne, provided by Judy Mackey



  1. I really like Naomi Shihab Nye as well as what is written here!

    • Rebekah, I find that connecting with a poet is inspiring and encouraging in many ways. How does poetry make a difference in your day? What other poets do you enjoy reading?

  2. Thank you, Jessica, for the opportunity to guest post on your blog, and for your kind and encouraging words. I’m happy my poem spoke to you. I’m grateful for your friendship.

    • Andrea, it’s great having you share your perspective on rowdy prisoners. I look forward to reading more of your poetry and posts. I’m grateful for you!

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