Losing It

untitled, 20″ x 20″, 1999.m/m

This is so good to read out loud:

By Naomi Shahib 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 rideā€¦
Thinking the bus will never stop
And 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 you 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 follows you everywhere
Like a shadow or a friend.


5 Responses to “Losing It”

  1. Laura Hegfield on June 3rd, 2011

    love this Cathy…thank you!

  2. gerry harty on June 3rd, 2011

    Amen Cathy!

  3. Jann on June 8th, 2011

    Love this poem, so you, miss you. Jann

  4. Barry on June 8th, 2011

    Cath, I don’t feel one needs to sink to such extreme depths of loss to understand kindness. I’m amazed daily at the kindnesses that are extended to me from an array of people of all ages. And I always feel that it’s coming from some innate understanding of the human need for giving and receiving kindness. My wife has not really personally experienced any bone crushing loss, but her kindness is an ongoing teaching to me. She does see a lot of loss in her medical career, but her kindness just seems built in to her nature and her empathy often makes her job tough.

  5. Laura Hegfield on June 8th, 2011

    Thinking of you today Cathy.

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