small kindnesses.


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.”

by Danusha Lameris, Small Kindnesses


 Danusha Laméris is a poet, teacher, and essayist. She is the author of The Moons of August (Autumn House, 2014), which was chosen by Naomi Shihab Nye as the winner of the Autumn House Press poetry prize and was a finalist for the Milt Kessler Book Award. Some of her poems have been published in: The Best American Poetry, The New York Times, The American Poetry Review, Prairie Schooner, The SUN Magazine, Tin House, The Gettysburg Review, and Ploughshares.

93 responses »

  1. Despite becoming a classic ‘Grumpy old man’ in retirement, I sincerely believe that most people are helpful and kind inside. That sadly changes in heavy traffic, and sometimes in queues for supermarket checkouts, buses, and trains. I wonder if our modern world moves too fast, overcoming natural human consideration for others?
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Pingback: Is The World Broken? – Aspirational Adventures

  3. What a wonderful sentiment and reminder that it takes little from us to practice kindness on another. I always perform ARKs (acts of random kindness) but still feel great and genuine surprise when I’m the recipient! I hope my gratitude is truly reflected in the sound of my voice as I offer my thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

    • that’s wonderful. this poem really struck me as I read it and these are things we are all capable of doing if we choose to. I’m are your gratitude is always heard


  4. Pingback: small kindnesses. — I didn’t have my glasses on…. | Rethinking Life

  5. Small interactions can change a person’s entire day, good or bad. I sometimes think it’s when we’re in a car in tons of traffic or in a crowd, etc., that people seem inpersonal instead of as fellow humans and we become more rude.


  6. I think people still do this, probably a bit less than before covid. People don’t want to touch anything if it belongs so someone else, beacuse they mightnot think it is kindness. Attitudes change unfortunately. There are still many kindnesses though all around. Luckily.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Lovely post, Beth. I love the look on strangers’ faces when one of my boys holds the door for them. Unexpected brightness. This poem is that and so much more. Thanks for sharing-not one I’ve read before 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. These are the things that happen daily that remind us that the majority of people have kind hearts. We can’t let the bad apples make us think otherwise.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Small disappointment. Really thought it was YOU who wrote those lines…. 🙂
    Apart from that, THAT IS EXACTLY IT. (Hope you don’t mind my caps all the times, I wd like to put them in BOLD but can’t – I am not screaming at you!)
    I’m all for small kindnesses. I even think that I wrote that expression years and years ago with a question mark because I didn’t know if the plural exists. But equally for many years I read it increasingly often, so that’s another positive development, right?

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I love this, and I so agree. Recently, when backing out at the library, I couldn’t see the back corner of my van well, so I asked a passerby if I was close to hitting anything. He did the universal gesturing of his arms to show how much space I still had and reinforced that with a distance in feet. I thanked him, and we exchanged the usual good day wishes. As we drove away, I remarked to my girls that we probably brightened that man’s day. Whenever you say or do something nice for a stranger, it brings a little more sunshine and makes the world a more pleasant place. So I so get this post!

    Liked by 1 person

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