Saturday September 24th 2022

Kindness by Naomi Shihab Nye

by 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 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 (born March 12, 1952) is a poet, songwriter, and novelist. She was born to a Palestinian father and American mother. Although she regards herself as a “wandering poet”, she refers to San Antonio as her home. (Wikipedia)

2 Comments for “Kindness by Naomi Shihab Nye”

  • Marike de Groot says:

    Read this whilst listening to “Bridge over troubled water” by Simon & Garfunkel…beautiful little moment in my day, thank you.

    • Beth says:

      Lovely! I was sent this by a friend, Sharon Marshall, and it was just too beautiful to keep. Glad you liked it.

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