Recently I posted a piece on Facebook (a rare event for me) about a poet and an academic at Keele University in England, who opened a Poetry Pharmacy “to dispense first aid in order to bring the therepeutic benefits of poetry to the local community and to support mental health.” In addition, I have encountered a spate of articles on medicine and poetry. Prescriptions for a poem along with traditional medicine from Stanford to Columbia.
As one who has always found solace and healing in this literary form, I am not surprised. Poems, carefully selected, are a constant in all of my workshops. And even the skeptics seem to like them.
Today, I give you a poem. I discovered this poem in the summertime and I have passed it on to a few friends as well as a private Facebook group I moderate for people living with illness. Even if you don’t really like poetry I think you will relate to this one. As for me, I love it.
Small Kindnesses by Danusha Laméris
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.”
There you have it. In a nutshell. I bet every one of you, dear reader, has encountered – both giving and receiving- similar occasions of small kindnesses. They can sometimes make our day.
Note 1:) Here is the link to the Poetry Pharmacy
Note 2:) For anyone living with an illness who may be interested in the private Facebook group mentioned above, here is the link. I should mention that I am not a big fan of FB, but for now, this was the best option I could find for people.
Note 3:) Thank you all for the emails and comments this week. With appreciation for clicking on this blog. There are lots of wonderful things readily available to read so I thank you for stopping by here. I will be at the wonderful Wellspring Calgary as of Thursday and going on to see my favourite Mother for a week. How lucky I am.