Wild & Precious Life

a collection of beautiful words…..

Tag: on being

Kindness by Naomi Shihab 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 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 everywhere
like a shadow or a friend.

Father by Carlos Andrés Gómez

“I.

In the basement of the crack house     I used to visit
as an outreach worker              on 121st street in Harlem,
I was convinced           He            refused
to travel north of 96th.             I wrote a letter
to Joanna on her mission         in Taiwan, detailed
each irrefutable            piece of evidence         proving
we are all,                                 in fact,                          alone.
Told her about             the nine-year-old orphan
forced              to sell               her body
for three years                          before ending up         just off
Times Square,              discarded         in a dumpster.
I told her about                        the eldest son
who answered              a burglar’s call              and was shot,
paralyzed         from the waist down.               I asked her
about drought              and famine                   and endless
civil wars—what lessons          does His book
refuse?

“II.

When her heart rate     dropped by half                 in less
than a minute,              the population             of our cramped
hospital room              tripling             in a handful of seconds,
I grasped for                anything           that would keep me
upright.            At first,            the wall:           cool and steady,
demanding my body        ascend beyond         what seemed
possible.                Then,                      nothing,
no one.            I stood             in the waiting room
of the O.R.                  waiting             to be called in,
to find out if                          my child                 had survived.
I spent each second                 trying to pull tiny shoe-coverings
over my too-large feet.             I confessed      every wrong
of my life               to an empty, over-lit room             of steel
and sterile instruments             that all        reflected back
distorted                      versions of myself.       I fumbled
for any prayer              I could remember, hoping
that I had all along been           mistaken          about the hollow
blackness         of the infinite sky.                    I never wanted
so badly                       to have been wrong
about anything             in my life—
and then              a   disembodied
voice            called out,           seemingly only to me—
a tiny growl         at first                          that blossomed
into a wail dwarfing     any thought     my mind
could       possibly          hold,                  any faith
I’d ever been                so foolish            to claim.”

One Tree by Philip Metres

They wanted to tear down the tulip tree, our neighbors, last year. It throws a shadow over their vegetable patch, the only tree in our backyard. We said no. Now they’ve hired someone to chainsaw an arm—the crux on our side of the fence—and my wife, in tousled hair and morning sweat, marches to stop the carnage, mid-limb. It reminds her of her childhood home, a shady place to hide. She recites her litany of no, returns. Minutes later, the neighbors emerge. The worker points to our unblinded window. I want to say, it’s not me, slide out of view behind a wall of cupboards, ominous breakfast table, steam of tea, our two young daughters now alone. I want no trouble. Must I fight for my wife’s desire for yellow blooms when my neighbors’ tomatoes will stunt and blight in shade? Always the same story: two people, one tree, not enough land or light or love. Like the baby brought to Solomon, someone must give. Dear neighbor, it’s not me. Bloom-shadowed, light-deprived, they lower the chainsaw again.

Wonder Woman by Ada Limón

“Standing at the swell of the muddy Mississippi

after the urgent care doctor had just said, Well,

sometimes shit happens, I fell fast and hard

for New Orleans all over again. Pain pills swirling

in the purse along with a spell for later. It’s taken

a while for me to admit, I am in a raging battle

with my body, a spinal column thirty-five degrees

bent, vertigo that comes and goes like a DC Comics

villain nobody can kill. Invisible pain is both

a blessing and a curse. You always look so happy,

said a stranger once as I shifted to my good side

grinning. But that day, alone on the riverbank,

brass blaring from the Steamboat Natchez,

out of the corner of my eye, I saw a girl, maybe half my age,

dressed, for no apparent reason, as Wonder Woman.

She strutted by in all her strength and glory, invincible,

eternal, and when I stood to clap (because who wouldn’t have),

she bowed and posed like she knew I needed a myth—

a woman, by a river, indestructible.”