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Posts Tagged ‘strangers’

Of Strangers

 

 

And so it is that kindness stays with me,

the way the woman in the store smiles at me

when she can tell I might start to cry.

 

I carry her smile in my pocket all day,

like a coin, something I carry everywhere

with no effort, but sometimes forget, and then,

 

when my fingers again find the ridged edges,

when I feel the weight of the coin in my palm,

I am struck by how something so small

 

carries value, carries meaning. All day

the smile stays with me. All day, I touch

it again and again, feel how its weight

 

tips some invisible scale, how I remember

again to say hello to fate and fall in love.

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for Sherry Richert Belul

 

 

With a LOVE stamp, the woman I’ve never met

mailed me five dollars, “to be a reminder

that abundance can come unexpectedly,”

 

she wrote, and sitting with her letter in my lap,

I thought of last night’s snow—

five white inches that fell after midnight

 

and softened the whole hard world.

And I thought of the orchid on my mantle

that sprouted a new stem of purple buds

 

even as the other stem continued to bloom.

And I thought of my office mate bringing in

nine tins of exotic teas to share. And my daughter

 

sending me a text to say she loved me “soooo much.”

And I thought of a woman in a town a thousand

miles away, a woman I have never met,

 

who thought, “I think I’ll send five dollars

to someone who brought abundance into my life.”

How simple it is to manifest unforeseen joy.

 

How clear the invitation to extend gratitude,

to spread good will, to remind each other

how the world will offer itself, will open

 

and open and open, how we, ourselves,

are the agents of the world.

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What Hands Can Do

 

 

 

In my country, he said, we take strangers

by the hand when we greet them.

His taxi wove through the northbound cars

on Lakeshore Drive, and I watched his eyes

in the rearview mirror as they searched

the lanes for where to go. It’s strange,

perhaps, he said, to offer someone

your bare hand, but it’s a nice gesture,

I think. In the world beyond the car,

how many strangers did we pass

in one minute? How many chances

to reach toward another and say

Hello, or as they say in Bosnia,

Zdravo? How many chances

to open some small part of ourselves

and trust the other to do the same?

I wanted to disagree with the man.

I wanted to tell him, that’s what

we do in this country, too. But

clearly his experience told him otherwise.

Here, he said, people shake at the end

of a conversation to make a deal.

But not at the beginning. At least

not with strangers.

I want to start a revolution. I want

our country shake hands more.

I want us to extend ourselves

toward those we don’t know,

to offer them something of ourselves,

to be vulnerable, welcoming, kind.

When I got out of the car, I thanked the man

in his tongue, as he’d taught me, Hvala.

I paid with the credit card in the back.

I didn’t reach forward to seal the deal.

I stepped out grateful for what he gave me—

one more way to revere creation,

one more way to honor what hands can do.

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United

 

 

 

 

For three and a half hours,

the man in 25 D and I

sit beside each other

and do not speak.

Somewhere, I like to imagine,

is a woman who wishes

that it were she

who got to be the woman

sitting in 25 E. I wonder

what she is doing right now,

perhaps twirling a strand

of her hair and remembering

the way his voice warms

when he says her name.

It occurs to me

that in every seat is a human

who loves and who wants

to be loved. A plane

of lovers, we are,

all of us politely minding

our elbows, traveling

with our seatbelts low

and tight across our laps.

And though we’ve never

met before and will likely

never meet again, and though

we may not even speak

to each other as we fly, just

think of it, all that love

traveling across the country

through a turbulent sky.

 

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