Jilly D.

Broken wrist requires poem, Kindness

In Mourning on March 4, 2011 at 2:56 am

Lynn Leopold and Ellen Abrams gave me a copy of this poem. I broke my write wrist on Sunday Feb. 20th at 9:30 a.m. when I slipped and fell on ice. Lefty hunt and peck for now. This poem says it all. Perhaps dear reader you can find its source?

Gundy Lee sent me the source for this poem. Naomi Shihab Nye- Risking Everything 110 Poems and Revelation ed. Roger Housden, Harmony Books, New York, 2003 p,76.


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 thengoes with you everywhere

like a shadow or a friend.


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