Poetry Friday: Gratitude and Reciprocity

Back in April, I wrote a poem a day (well, most days) inspired by one of the women featured in Kathryn Aalto’s book Writing Wild: Women Poets, Ramblers, and Mavericks Who Shape How We See the Natural World. Inspired by the excerpts Aalto shared, I just finished reading Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teaching of Plants, by Robin Wall Kimmerer. Elizabeth Gilbert calls this book “a hymn of love to the world,” and I completely agree with that description.

Kimmerer laments our lost connections to the Earth, then, in an effort to heal the wounds we’ve inflicted on our precious home as well as to heal ourselves, points us toward a way forward. She states that language is “a prism through which to see the world” and that “language is our gift and our responsibility.” To me, this is a plea to choose and use our words with care and for the good of all. 

Kimmerer goes on to say that in order to “create sustainable humanity” we must rediscover our “gratitude and our capacity for reciprocity.” As I grapple with the sad facts of our current world, this encourages me. Kimmerer also sees “the very facts of the world [as] a poem.” Reading and writing poetry help me build my capacity for gratitude, for reciprocity. I am grateful to this community for the encouragement it provides. Here then, as an act of reciprocity, is a poem from Naomi Shihab Nye, one of our greatest teachers of gratitude and reciprocity. 

Every day as a wide field, every page


Standing outside
staring at a tree
gentles our eyes

We cheer
to see fireflies
winking again

Where have our friends been
all these long hours?
Minds stretching

beyond the field
their own skies

Windows doors
grow more

Look through a word
swing that sentence
wide open

Kneeling outside
to find
sturdy green

glistening blossoms
under the breeze
that carries us silently

Read the rest of the poem here.

Please be sure to visit my lovely and talented critique group partner, Molly Hogan, at Nix the Comfort Zone for the Poetry Friday Roundup.

8 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: Gratitude and Reciprocity

  1. I love the idea that “we must rediscover our “gratitude and our capacity for reciprocity.””

    Thank you for sharing highlights of this book with us, and the poem by Naomi Shihab Nye.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for this new-to-me NSN poem! I love
    “And there were so many more poems to read!
    Countless friends to listen to.”
    (among other big truths)

    Writing Wild (thanks for the recommendation) is waiting on my side table and Braiding Sweetgrass is on my TBR list.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. “hope was always the thing!” What a wonderful post. I too feel gratitude and sometimes feel like I’m behind in sharing it. I’m thankful for so much. This community of writers is such an encouragement. I have put the book on my wishlist. I can’t decide if I want to read it (meaning it will sit on top of a tall TBR pile for a while) or listen to it. Big decision. Will make it soon!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Catherine, thanks for sharing this Naomi Shihab Nye poem today. It was new to me and so many lines reached out and touched me. I especially love those ending lines: “When you paused for a poem
    it could reshape the day
    you had just been living.” Truth! I have barely begun to read “Braiding Sweetgrass” and am already discovering such wisdom and richness in its pages.

    Liked by 1 person

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