One of the many weird, sad things about living during this time of pandemic is what it does to how we look on other people: suddenly everyone is threat, or potential threat, and connection is something to be avoided, not sought. I’d like to offer a little antidote to this—a reminder of connection as protection—in the shape of ‘Shoulders‘ by the deeply gifted Naomi Shihab Nye.

Shihab Nye evokes an infinity of tenderness in this poem—even the splash from a passing car, or the car going ‘too near to his shadow’, would be unbearable to the parent thus devoted to his son’s care. And yet this most precious creature is not obviously “FRAGILE”. It’s a reminder that we all need care and that inside us all is—or perhaps was—’the hum of a… dream’.

I love the fact that the poem acknowledges ‘The road will only be wide./ The rain will never stop falling’. It’s not an an easy ride being a person, however wondrous or joyful it can sometimes be. I’m glad to be reminded that as well as being careful we need to be caring, too. Can wariness and tenderness co-exist? Let’s hope so.

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