Saturday, November 24, 2007

seeing the size of the cloth

a reader of this blog and a new friend just sent me this poem - i thought it was so beautiful i should share it here:

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 any sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and send you out in 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.

Naomi Shehab Nye

via - tikkun


Visual-Voice said...

Naomi is one of my very favorite poets, and this one, in particular, speaks to me of knowing the shadow of life and being willing to embrace it with compassion and dignity.

Thanks for sharing this. I can't read it enough times.

bobbie said...

you're welcome!

thanks for the encouragement to find more of her poems!

Sarah Louise said...

oh, this is beautiful. i really need to read more poetry.

Wayne Stratz said...

It has been a few years since I read this poem, it is powerful. you are blessed to have it sent to you. I encourage you to find more of her poems, for me it would only take a 5 second walk to a book case, I guess that is my blessing.

Sarah Louise said...

oh, how I needed to re-read this today, this morning.