Naomi Shihab Nye – Kindness

One Hundred and Eighty Six 11.3.16

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.

DC is having a 70 degrees warm yet gray fall day. Kind of everything you’d expect, leaves are orange-red and falling gently with a natural dance, I bike around with Joan Baez singing Diamonds and Rust, while your ghost appears and this is not unusual. My ribs cage hurts, my eyes have that are kind of cliche sadness and I had many things to tell you last night, but when I woke up this morning it was all gone, so I am writing you this instead, which isn’t much.. but the poem is good, she’s good, life is not too shabby, and I am doing ok with occasional boredom or distraction. Been dealing with a cracked rib these days, which is giving me such a Johnny Cash (NIN) vibe – I’m wearing all black and all too – full Cash baby! Health, man, Health! So fascinating – you could have it all and then poof! Donzo! I have told you – I have been waking up, staring at Van Gogh and touching my body and thanking it – and then here I am savoring Johnny Cash with a cracked rib and feeling alive and some what frustrated.. You out there who has chronic pain, I feel you darlin, I feel you! It’s not my first rodeo.. I have had many accidents and this is just how life is… but I am amazed by forgetfulness of human mind and body.. like every time I’m up and healthy, I don’t think of low and pain.. oh and down – afflux! I am ok though – cracked ribs are not too bad, they hurt, make life slower than usual, but now I can truly be a grumpy ol’ man getting in and out of bed and I can grunt! I had a partner who used to say I grunt around the house haha – now I have a real reason!

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