By Danusha Laméris
I’ve been thinking about the way, when you walk down a crowded aisle,
people pull in their legs to let you by.
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.”
This poem was definitely not written in a time of self-isolation, was it? But jarring as some of the images are right now (someone touched my lemons!!), it is relevant to current circumstances, because it talks about what we need to remember: that simple, unexpected delights from other people can lift an ordinary moment into something transcendent, however brief, and that we can create these moments every day, even (especially) in a crisis.
So while we won’t be touching anyone’s lemons, smiles, warm gestures and generous words can mean even more than usual at times like these, so let’s dish them out in spades. Good vibes boost our immune systems, so let’s double the dose!
Also, I just wanted to say … I like your hat.
PS: Apologies to Danusha Lameris for the slight edit of her poem due to current sensitivities. See the full version here.