Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Waking up with sorrow



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 the white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he 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

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

To be useful

from The Complete Poetry: A Bilingual Edition, by C├ęsar Vallejo.

For several days, I have felt an exuberant, political need
to love, to kiss affection on its two cheeks,
and I have felt from afar a demonstrative
desire, another desire to love, willingly or by force,
whoever hates me, whoever rips up his paper, a little boy,
the woman who cries for the man who was crying,
the king of wine, the slave of water,
whoever hid in his wrath,
whoever sweats, whoever passes, whoever shakes his person in my soul.
And I want, therefore, to adjust
the braid of whoever talks to me; the hair of the soldier;
the light of the great one; the greatness of the little one.
I want to iron directly
a handkerchief for whoever is unable to cry
and, when I am sad or happiness hurts me,
to mend the children and the geniuses.
I want to help the good one become a little bit bad
and I badly need to be seated
on the right-hand of the left-handed, and to respond to the mute,
trying to be useful to him as
I can, and also I want very much
to wash the lame man’s foot,
and to help the nearby one-eyed man sleep.