to be kind
the counselor told me
there was nothing wrong with me
I was not at all like my mother

sent me home with exercises to relax me
to talk me through the times my mind burned up the world
the times the world opened to drop me into void

to be kind
the staff of shelters
served food and brought pillows and poured coffee
and piled helplessness upon helplessness
and smiled as women smile for empty bodies

to be kind
the neighbors want the new shelter
to be someplace more appropriate
someplace where they are already
more people of that kind

to be kind
the businessmen would like to study
the need and design and the placement
of hygiene centers in the business core
a little longer, long enough, perhaps,
that all the unpleasant people will go away

to be kind
we will no longer sell
forty-ounce bottles of beer
in the districts where the worn men sleep
because it is not good for them
their drunken ravings frighten us
and maybe, maybe they will go away

to be kind
we will look away from our friend when she cries

to be kind
we will look away from the fear in the small gray woman
at the desk next door
we will look away from her disappearance

to be kind
we will look away from the child screaming at his father
we will look away from the smack of flesh on bone

to be kind
I will not tell you
what your kindness means to me

~~Anitra L. Freeman

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