Last week, a nurse pulled a warm blanket
from a magical cave of heated cotton
and lay it on my lap, even wrapping
my feet. She admired my red sandals.
Once, a friend brought me a chicken
she’d roasted and packed with whole lemons.
I ate it with my fingers while it was still warm.
Kindnesses appear, then disappear so quickly
that I forget their brief streaks: they vanish,
while cruelty pearls its durable shell.
Goodness streams like hot water through my hair
and down my skin, and I’m able to live
again with the ache. Love wakens the world.
Kindness is my mother, sending me a yellow dress in the mail
for no reason other than to watch me twirl.
There is more than one poem about kindness and this one is new to me, thanks to my dear friend Laura and her Poem Box. Like Laméris and Shihab Nye, these speak of the small kindnesses that one might overlook but which are essential to finding joy in daily life. If you’ve ever experienced a warmed blanket in a hospital, you’ll know what a visceral pleasure and comfort that is; if you haven’t, well, something to look forward to in difficult circumstances.
A roasted chicken packed with whole lemons brought by a friend, to eat warm with your fingers, no doubt when you are not able to cook for yourself, is truly a kindness. This is what people do in times of need. As the poet says, kindnesses come and go so quickly, we can too soon forget them, while cruelty pearls its durable shell. What an amazing image, the hardness and longevity of those unkind moments we remember too well.
Yet Goodness streams like hot water through my hair / and down my skin – can you not feel the gentle comfort of that? This essential goodness allows us to live with the ache of the harshness. For this poet, it is the kindness of her mother sending her a yellow dress in the mail, surprise, but it could be anyone in your life who has ever done a small kindness which will reassure you of the goodness of humankind. Surely there is no coincidence these two words go together!
Love wakens the world. Oh yes, indeed it does. May your world be awakened.