In praise of small kindnesses

By Siri Myhrom

Today’s is a soft meditation
in praise of the enormousness
of small kindnesses.

Like the café worker who waved enthusiastically
to my father as he walked in the door
like she was expecting him,
like he was a regular in this hipster enclave
instead of a septuagenarian
in khaki shorts and white tennis shoes.

He met me here on my workday
so I could help him format a document —
something he couldn’t figure out how to do at home
no matter how many buttons he tried,
something my mother always did for him
in the decades after he gave up his trusty typewriter.
So he arrived at the coffee shop

vulnerable and exasperated in that way
that only technology can make us feel:
like slow, dependent children — and

sorely missing my mother.

Like the barista who didn’t blink
when he ordered his coffee the wrong way,
when he said la-TAY instead of LAH-tey,
who took his order from our table
as if we were in a sit-down restaurant
and she was our waiter,
who smiled the whole time like a halo of warm light,
softening the space everywhere,
who made him feel like he belonged.

You cannot know how those small gestures matter,
unless you are him, unless you are me, watching,
unless you see his shoulders relax,

in that way that we can do only
when we feel safe and seen,

and his eyes dampen, the tiny liquid pools held in at the rims,
letting go, barely noticeable, as he smiles and says,
She always knew how to do this for me. For years she did this.
She would have been 68 today. How I miss her.

2 thoughts on “In praise of small kindnesses

  1. “She always knew how to do this for me. For years she did this.
    She would have been 68 today. How I miss her.”
    Very moving finale. And true to life for all of us who have lost loved ones.


  2. I so appreciate your wonderful poem which captures the personality and poignancy of the situation. I have witnessed this several times,
    but you were able to record the essence in your poem for all people and all time.
    I will now look for more of your work. Thank you.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s