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.
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.