One river gives
Its journey to the next.
We give because someone gave to us.
We give because nobody gave to us.
We give because giving has changed us.
We give because giving could have changed us.
We have been better for it,
We have been wounded by it—
Giving has many faces: It is loud and quiet,
Big, though small, diamond in wood-nails.
Its story is old, the plot worn and the pages too,
But we read this book, anyway, over and again:
Giving is, first and every time, hand to hand,
Mine to yours, yours to mine.
You gave me blue and I gave you yellow.
Together we are simple green. You gave me
What you did not have, and I gave you
What I had to give—together, we made
Something greater from the difference.
I first heard this poem spoken in Ireland at a gathering of lovers of poetry I attended and it has stayed with me since. I’ve long been intrigued by the inexorable twinning of giving and receiving, how one cannot exist without the other.
Rios speaks of the many elements of giving. We give because we received, we did not, we were changed, we were not, we are better for it or wounded by it. Giving has many faces with an old story we return to over and again.
When we each give what we have, blue for you, yellow for me, together we are simple green. Simple, yes. We give what we do not have, what we do have to give. Surely you know those times you have given when you thought you had nothing to offer. And together, we made / Something greater from the difference.
This is how it is every day. We give, we receive, hand to hand – mine to yours, yours to mine, really two sides of the same coin. And each time, something new is created. Try it and see if that isn’t true – simple green, like the colour of spring that surrounds us now. And isn’t it delectable.