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10 April 2007

Poets show us what kindness is

Nye2My friend and neighbor, Catherine (or, as Tess calls her, "Sweet, Sweet Tina") sent this gorgeous poem by Naomi Shihab Nye (above), for all of us to think about and heal with.

Kindness

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 crowd 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


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I have loved this poem for many years, and have posted it (or about it) on several occasions myself. Thanks for sharing it with all your readers.

My mother used to tell me that we can only experience joy to the degree that we have been hollowed out by sorrow. It seems a rough way to see it, but I think it is true. People that have never experienced a deep pain, may never really know what it feels like to have that weight lifted for a moment by a simple joy - or by the kindness of a friend.

Beautiful words! Living a life of kindness is really the only way that makes any sense. Thank you for sharing this poem.

I love Naomi Nye's work so much. My father was a very kind man even as he was dying. He taught me a great deal about kindness, especially in his last year. Must now follow link to the rest of the poets. (this is e_juden from Twitter)

I adore this poem. It is one of the poems of my life. Ah-dore it, and actually have it in the Poetry Nook of my site too. I am delighted to've found your blog, through a new twitter friend. Now I want to read your book! Bocoup kisses of thanks and blessing to you-- xo heidi

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