Kindness by Naomi Shihab Nye

February 16th, 2012

urban street 

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 everywhere
like a shadow or a friend.

  1. What a beautiful piece, Naomi & Ian! Where I am right now, a small city in Guerrero, Mexico, there is kindness everywhere — mostly the kind that’s asked of you when you’re privileged and surrounded by need. But there’s also that extraordinary type of kindness that’s given whether it’s asked or needed or not.

  2. In what a great world we would live if kindness was as contagious as a yawn. 

  3. Jane says:

    To have been kind is the greatest legacy.

Post a Comment: