Poetry by Thich Nhat Hanh

Call Me by My True Names 
by Thich Nhat Hanh 

Do not say that I'll depart tomorrow 
because even today I still arrive. 
Look deeply: I arrive in every second 
to be a bud on a spring branch, 
to be a tiny bird, with wings still fragile, 
learning to sing in my new nest, 
to be a caterpillar in the heart of a flower, 
to be a jewel hiding itself in a stone. 
I still arrive, in order to laugh and to cry, 
in order to fear and to hope. 
The rhythm of my heart is the birth and 
of all that are alive. 
I am the mayfly metamorphosing on 
the surface of the river, 
and I am the bird which, when spring comes, 
arrives in time 
to eat the mayfly. 
I am the frog swimming happily in the clear pond, 
and I am also the grass-snake who, approaching 
in silence, 
feeds itself on the frog. 
I am the child in Uganda, all skin and bones, 
my legs as thin as bamboo sticks, 
and I am the arms merchant, selling deadly weapons 
I am the twelve-year-old girl, refugee on a small boat, 
who throws herself into the ocean 
after being raped by a sea
and I am the pirate, my heart not yet 
capable of seeing and
I am a member of the politburo, with plenty 
of power in my
and I am the man who has to pay his "debt of blood" 
to, my
 people, dying slowly in a 
forced labor camp. 
My joy is like spring, so warm it makes 
flowers bloom in all
 walks of life. 
My pain if like a river of tears, so full 
it fills the four oceans. 
Please call me by my true names, 
so I can hear all my cries and laughs at once, 
so I can see that my joy and pain are one. 
Please call me by my true names, 
so I can wake up, 
and so the door of my heart 
can be left open, 
the door of compassion.