Saturday, October 14, 2017

Hodgepodge 350/365 - Poetry (Naomi Shihab Nye)

I was looking for a poem on loss, pursuant to the Sonoma/Napa fires, and most of them were on the loss of a loved one. This one, though, seems to cover more. Because there are different kinds of devastating loss. The loss of a parent, spouse, child, or simply a beloved dog; the loss of a home, and all the artifacts of memory contained therein; the loss of hope. And always, always, kindness needs to be practiced. Because we never, ever, know what sort of loss a person might be suffering, right now. And we never know what sort of loss we, too, will one day suffer—maybe sooner than we think—and how much we will appreciate, and depend on, kindness to get us through.

This week in Sonoma County, I was struck time and time again by all the kindness I witnessed.


Naomi Shihab Nye

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 gaze at 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.

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