“Small Kindesses” 6×6, oil on canvas $125

I’ve had a lot of time for birdwatching these days. The titmice are still my favorites at the feeder. Such dark, lovely eyes. 

I miss people though. High fives. Cocktails on a patio with good conversation that leads to belly laughs. Making groceries twice in one day because I forgot some “essential” ingredient like cilantro. I miss my mom’s hug and my sister’s, “should we open another bottle?” I even miss the awkward small talk I thought I hated when I am waiting in line or picking my kid up from school. 

The following poem feels exactly right. 

Small Kindnesses

by Danusha Lameris

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.”