no end to the kindness of this world

The wet snow is a small kindness, the morning’s persistent rain hardening and engulfing the city in a huge liminality. I float through with an umbrella and a scarf, cocooned by cold and damp, affectionate toward this world of softened edges and indeterminate light. We went shopping for Buddhas in a shop reeking of patchouli, because “they have the best selection of Buddhas in town.” I tried on hats, one a corona of outrageous striped fur, one a raccoon face on gray; and the rain stiffened to snow all the while. We bought a Buddha, we left the shop. We drank coffee and I ate cake and I said, “I have to commit to one thing, or the other,” and he said, “It sounds like you know what you need to do.” Those words too were a small kindness. Then I walk home through the sleet.

The empty house is a kindness, and the mouse-shy snick of the door opening when someone else comes home later will be a kindness, neither small. The smell of dinner mingled with incense-smoke and the mail clattering through the slot: all a kindness. Each stitch in my grandmother’s quilt (the yellow one folded over the dusky Egyptian cotton blanket on my bed), the well-seasoned cast iron skillet,  the spray of hot water on my back in the shower and the dry towel afterward, yes, each a kindness. The fumbling words in our thousand languages with which we greet each other, ask after one another, comfort one another in city after city, country after country, a sweetness, a kindness. The moldering maple leaf on the sidewalk and the frightened stray cats in the backyard. The bitter of hops, the warmth of cinnamon. Coffee’s bite, exhaustion’s burn, a headache, an Advil; there is no end to the kindness of this world.

Now in the house, it’s cold, the temperature drops inside and out. I put on water to boil (the gas, the stove, the blue flame) for a cup of tea. No end to the kindness of this world.

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