. . .The path is clear though no eyes can see. . .

Poem as promised:


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

P.S.--I bought Oh, The Places You'll Go to read to my 8th graders on their last day of school. I used to get teary reading it to the 3-year-old I used to nanny. I can't imagine this bodes well--I see blubbering in my future.


Ms. X said...

OMG. I wish I knew this poem two weeks ago. I did a poetry workshop unit with my baddies, and when we talked about "If I can stop one heart from breaking" by Emily Dickinson, they were all surprisingly convinced that she must be "sad." When I asked them about this, they said, "Because if she wants to help other people so much, she must know what it's like to need help." How great would it have been if I could have busted this out???

teach people not books said...

that sounds like they had quite a perceptive perspective. and i was just calling my baddies "baddies" too! i bought them postcards because they weren't allowed to go on the class trip :\