Sunday, 20 February 2011

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 every where
like a shadow or a friend.


Titus said...

Oh, that was a bit of knock-out on a Sunday morning. Thanks swiss.

Niamh B said...

Yes, agree with Titus here, it's such an adventure sometimes clicking over here to see what gem you've selected, and more often than not it's a real treat.

swiss said...

yes, i'm quite into this one. trouble is i'm at the end of my poems to put up on here so i'm needing to either have a serious browse or sot down with the books for a few hours. or both. ah yes, the travails! lol

Roxana said...

i have always wondered where on earth you get all these marvels from :-)
somehow that image of the bus with passengers eating maize and chickens and staring out the window forever doesn't want to leave me, such journeys can be so fulfilling, indeed, and put everything else into perspective... travelling always does, i find

Karen said...

This is a wonderful poem -- one of the best I've read on the blogs.

swiss said...

yes, i keep coming back to this one. i really must read some more of her. and post more!