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Kindness / Naomi Shihab Nye

Naomi Shihab Nye is an American-Palestinian poet who lives in San Antonio. Her poetry is much garlanded and she has been Young People’s poet laureate. I was sent this poem by my friend Alice Eldridge who found it by chance during our Birdbath project in Brighton. I finally read it on the train on the way to the airport to Nepal. It feels so timely.


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.

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3 comentarios


Ajay
Ajay
28 may

That went straight to the heart and really, really resonated deeply. Thank you for sharing Alistair. Wishing you a safe, comfortable and illuminating journey ahead 💙

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Kay
Kay
28 may

Simply beautiful. Stunning imagery. Go well Alistair, with love xx

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Geneva L.
Geneva L.
28 may

So powerful and beautiful. Very moving.

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