“The frailest woman will become a heroine when the life of her own child is at stake. And only the will to save the race and native land or the State, which offers protection to the race, has in all ages been the urge which has forced men to face the weapons of their enemies.”

Tagged: Mother's Instinct , Motherhood , state , Race , enemies , Bravery

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“after Nazim Hikmet, for & after Rassan At the Detroit Metro Airport with the turtle-hours to spare between now & my flight, there is such a thing as the kindness of the conveyor belt who lends me its slow, strange mollusk foot as I stand quiet, exhausted, having been alone in my bed for days now, sleeping in hotels, having spent months, now, without seeing the faces of my family, somehow its slow & quiet carrying of the load reminds me of the kindness of donkeys & this kindness returns me to myself. It reminds me of the kindness of other things I love like the kindness of sisters who send mail, wherever you are, &, speaking of mail, there is the special kindness of the mail lady who says, 'Hi, baby' to everyone, at first I thought it was just me, but now I know she says 'Hi, baby' to everyone. That is kindness. Too, there is the kindness of windows, & of dogs. & then there was that extraordinary Sunday back at the house, I heard a woman screaming about how she was lonely & so lonely she didn’t know what she’d do, maybe kill herself, she said, over & over like a parrot in a cage, a parrot whose human parent only taught it that one sentence. I looked out the window & saw her from behind, the way she flung her arms like she was desperate & being killed or eaten by an invisible predator, like a tiger or a lion, in the chest. & her voice seemed fogged out with methadone, I don’t know, something, & I walked away from the window & sat, angry with her for screaming, & sad, & not long after, I heard her saying, What’d you say? What’d you say to me? & a man’s voice, low, I could not tell if it was kind. & she said, I’ll kill myself, I’m so lonely. & did I tell you, yet, that it was Mother’s Day? Flowers & mothers, flowers & mothers all day long. & the woman saying, I’m so lonely. I could kill myself. & then quiet. & the man’s voice saying, It’s okay. It’s okay. I love you, it’s okay. & this made me get up, put my face, again, to the window to see my landlord’s nephew outside, just hugging her so, as if it were his mother, I mean, as if he belonged to her, & then, again, quiet, I left the window but sat in the silence of the house, hidden by shutters, & was amazed. When the front door of the brownstone opened up & let the tall nephew in with his sad & cougar eyes, handsome & tall in his Carolina-Brooklyn swagger, I heard him start to climb the stairs above me, & my own hand opened up my own front door, & though it was none of my business I asked him, Do you know that women out there? & do you know what happened next? He said, No. The nephew said no, he didn’t know the woman out there. & he told me Happy Mother’s Day as he climbed the rest of the stairs. & I can’t stop seeing them hugging on the street, under trees, it was spring, but cold, & sometimes in the memory his head is touching hers & sometimes in the memory his eyes are closed, & sometimes she is holding him & singing to him I love you. It’s okay. I mean to tell you that everywhere I go I hear us singing to each other. This way. I mean to tell you that I have witnessed such great kindness as this, in this, my true life, you must believe me. I mean, on a Sunday, when nobody was supposed to be watching. Nobody at all. I saw this happen, the two of them hugging, when nobody was supposed to be watching, but not a secret either, public as the street, not for glory & not for a joke, the landlord’s nephew ready to stand there for the woman like a brother or a sister or a husband or son, or none of these at all, but a stranger, a stranger, who like her, is an earthling. Perhaps this thing I am calling kindness is more simple than kindness, rather, recognition of the neighbor & the blue, shared earth & the common circumstance of being here: what remains living of the last two million, impossible years…”

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