Thursday, October 11, 2018


Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
Like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be 
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.

Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crown of the world to say
It is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you everywhere
like a shadow or a friend.

~ Naomi Shihab Nye
from Words Under the Words: Selected Poems


Anonymous said...

So so beutiful poem.
Thank you,
bless, M.

jacquin said...

Thank you for sharing. The old-fashioned rendering of patience as "long-suffering" is lovely here, implying compassion borne of identification.

onlythedance said...

So grateful for this posting
and for the deep stillness that this poem opened inside of me.

In that stillness, i find that this great emptiness where my heart used to be... it IS my heart.
All of that dissolving has made space

So much space.
A quiet place to be
an emptiness all the way
out to my ribs, my shoulder blades,
with an airy sense of shelter at the edges.

It is kindness that wells up and gently runs along the floor

So grateful for today's poem
and for the kindness and generosity of the invisible host
who sets out this banquet throughout each week.