“Shoulders” by Naomi Shihab Nye

A man crosses the street in rain,
stepping gently, looking two times north and south,
because his son is asleep on his shoulder.

No car must splash him.
No car drive too near to his shadow.

This man carries the world’s most sensitive cargo
but he’s not marked.
Nowhere does his jacket say FRAGILE,
HANDLE WITH CARE.

His ear fills up with breathing.
He hears the hum of a boy’s dream
deep inside him.

We’re not going to be able
to live in this world
if we’re not willing to do what he’s doing
with one another.

The road will only be wide.
The rain will never stop falling.

The above poem Shoulders. is from Red Suitcase.  (1994) It is published here with permission from The Permissions Company Inc., on behalf of BOA Editions Ltd. Thanks to Frederick T. Courtright for his prompt reply to my request to do so.

I came across this poem when I was writing my last blog in which I included a few lines from Naomi’s poem “Kindness.”

You can read about Naomi and her poetry here

There are so many ways to say what kindness is but its meaning has grown, swelled indeed, especially lately when now more than ever it is what we all need.  To me, this simple poem encapsulates the real meaning of kindness and I thank Naomi for that.

Be safe and well. Helen

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