Be Kind To Your Shadow | Free Word

Poem by Belinda Zhawi

after Kindness by Naomi Shahib Nye


o, shadow


before you learn the meaning of kindness


you must be be cut with your own truth –

at your own hands. you must be stripped bare

whilst still green

like the foraged parts of maize stalks,

left out to dry after harvest.

first, the fresh cobs

followed by the leaves

when the earth is shaken out of the roots

your  throat might knot in envy

at the audacity of such shedding

such light weight


before you learn the warm weight of benevolence

o, shadow of mine, you must ask the skies:

who said to raise the girls

five steps behind their brothers?

who set the sun last night; rose it this morning?

who placed this breath in these lungs? who breathes this body?

who? who? who gave me this voice?

placed it in a valley deeper than most. who arranged the stars

& pulled that moon

so close to the waters of this plane?


dear shadow –


all you need is breath; this body is the only place

you will follow, always live in, till we die.

dear shadow – if I were to ever rid myself of you

then it must’ve been a busy week –

a stormy week.

just like that one when venus entered pisces –

the winds lifting roofs off high streets

& the rain brought in a cabinet of crooks & they said

they wanted their country back & we wondered – who made

these hearts so easy to harden


you have to be cut

with your own truth at your own hands

like the foraged parts of green maize stalks

left out to dry after harvest.


foraged to return

back into the soil

or to feed the cows