I’ve been thinking about the way, when you walk
down a crowded aisle, people pull in their legs
to let you by. Or how strangers still say “bless you”
when someone sneezes, a leftover
from the Bubonic plague. “Don’t die,” we are saying.
And sometimes, when you spill lemons
from your grocery bag, someone else will help you
pick them up. Mostly, we don’t want to harm each other.
We want to be handed our cup of coffee hot,
and to say thank you to the person handing it. To smile
at them and for them to smile back. For the waitress
to call us honey when she sets down the bowl of clam chowder,
and for the driver in the red pick-up truck to let us pass.
We have so little of each other, now. So far
from tribe and fire. Only these brief moments of exchange.
What if they are the true dwelling of the holy, these
fleeting temples we make together when we say, “Here,
have my seat,” “Go ahead—you first,” “I like your hat.”
by Danusha Laméris
‘Kindness changes everything’, it says on my fridge, and I know it to be true (which is not to say I always know how to open to it!). And to me, these words by Danusha Laméris from her new book of poetry ring true: ‘What if they are the true dwelling of the holy, these fleeting temples we make together’ with our small kindnesses. So important. And I’m sure it’s been said and felt before, but I’d like to add: especially now…
And perhaps that’s also what the New York Times thought when they for National Poetry Month, they invited teenagers to read this poem and asked, What small kindnesses do you appreciate? They received over 1300 responses, which Danusha Lameris then fashioned into a collaborative poem which you can enjoy here… heartwarming, to me!