Monday, February 15, 2010

Being Naomi Shihab Nye

Here is my beautiful friend, the extraordinary poet,
songwriter and novelist, Naomi Shihab Nye on Kindness:


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.

--Naomi Shihab Nye


DB said...

Yes, it's beautiful. I have never understood cruelty and meanness. Those things can only live in people who have never known how deep the water is or how long the night, or who have never had the courage to face their own reality.


Judith Ellis said...

Beautiful words, DB. Thank you.

septembermom said...

Beautiful. The last stanza is especially moving and powerful. The whole poem moves gracefully. Thank you Judith.

Judith Ellis said...

Pleasure, Kelly

Judith Ellis said...

By the way, Kelly, her poem, "Disappearing Act," has a permanent place on my blog. You can also Google her for many many more poems. She is quite prolific and well-regarded nationally and internationally.