Sunday, April 23, 2017

Poem in my Post: Kindness by Naomi Shihab Nye

Poem in my Post: Kindness by Naomi Shihab Nye

Today was a beautiful Sunday and I spent the morning with my friend, Linda, sharing our poetry.  Then I went for a long walk along Harriet Island and went to a planning meeting for my Grenada trip in July.  It was such a great day and I tried to soak up as much sun as possible since we won't see the sun in St. Paul for another 10 days (says the long term forecast).

Today I am sharing one of my favorite poems by one of the poets I admire most in the world.  I just love this poem and keep coming to it for words of wisdom and for the reminder of how important kindness truly is.  Kindness was written after Naomi and her husband were robbed on their honeymoon.  Watch the video at the end where Naomi talks in depth about what inspired the poem.  Enjoy!!


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.

From Words Under the Words: Selected Poems. Copyright © 1995 by Naomi Shihab Nye