, June 25, 2024

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For the Sake of Strangers

  •   1 min read
For the Sake of Strangers
Photo by Rainier Ridao on Unsplash

Intro by Ted Kooser

Tol­stoy said,  “Noth­ing can make our life, or the lives of oth­er peo­ple, more beau­ti­ful than per­pet­u­al kind­ness.” I found this poem by Dori­anne Laux in Poet­ry of Pres­ence: An Anthol­o­gy of Mind­ful­ness Poems, pub­lished by Grayson Books of West Hart­ford, CT. The poet, whose most recent book of poet­ry is Only As The Day Is Long, lives in Maine.

By Dorianne Laux

No matter what the grief, its weight,
we are obliged to carry it.
We rise and gather momentum, the dull strength
that pushes us through crowds.
And then the young boy gives me directions
so avidly. A woman holds the glass door open,
waiting patiently for my empty body to pass through.
All day it continues, each kindness
reaching toward another—a stranger
singing to no one as I pass on the path, trees
offering their blossoms, a child
who lifts his almond eyes and smiles.
Somehow they always find me, seem even
to be waiting, determined to keep me
from myself, from the thing that calls to me
as it must have once called to them—
this temptation to step off the edge
and fall weightless, away from the world.

American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (www.poetryfoundation.org), publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright ©1994 by Dorianne Laux, "For the Sake of Strangers," from What We Carry, (BOA Editions, Ltd., 1994). Poem reprinted by permission of Dorianne Laux and the publisher. Introduction copyright © 2022 by The Poetry Foundation.

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