Last week’s poem for Yoga + a Poem originally appeared in What We Carry, the 1994 collection by Dorianne Laux that was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry. This poem is not available in its entirety online with copyright permission, so instead of linking it here, I’ve provided an excerpt, and I hope you will explore Laux’s poetry at your local library or independent bookstore. Her book, Only As the Day as Long: New and Selected Poems (2019) also includes this poem. Laux is a fierce poet of truth and beauty.
In our tangled web of technology and social media and often disheartening news, many of us actively seek moments of transcendence and grace via poetry, music, honest conversation, a smile, or kind word. This poem captures the reality of quotidian despair but also the sweet evanescent moments of grace that lift us out of “the grief, its weight” and restore hope.
For the Sake of Strangers
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,
waits patiently for my empty body to pass through.
All day it continues, each kindness
reaching toward another–…
This week’s image is a crazy tangle of nasturtiums in our backyard. They re-seed themselves each year and offer their tendrils of lily-pad-like leaves to raindrops and their fiery blossoms to bees and hummingbirds and us, and we humbly say, thank you.