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 children
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 sorrows
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.