Deborah A. Bennett, "For the heart / very small things"

Charity, I’ve learned, is near meaningless without a charitable spirit.

Deborah A. Bennett, "For the heart / very small things"

Welcome! Here, have reading material

Hi everyone--

Today I'm sharing some thoughts on a haiku by Deborah A. Bennett. I encourage you to take a look at her other work. Her twitter is filled with beautiful words, and I wish mine could be a fraction as good.

Some other things you might find of interest:

  • Jamelle Bouie on FDR and the New Deal: honestly, it can't be emphasized enough how everything we're taught about American history is wrong. It isn't so much that we're fed conservative propaganda, though that does happen to a degree. It's more that we're fed amazingly lazy narratives that don't bother to explain why people made the decisions they did. It's good to see Bouie articulate how the New Deal itself was genuinely anti-fascist, a means to believing in the promise of democratic government. It's even better how he lets FDR explain himself, making the past directly relevant to this moment.
  • Rachel Mennies, "Less Than Certain:" after this, I wanted to take all the literature classes I took over again. And then take that many more. What's happening in so many classrooms is priceless.

Deborah A. Bennett, "For the heart / very small things"

“For the heart / very small things”—yeah, that makes sense. I believe a truth has been spoken.

“For the heart” and “very small things” are separated, a more expected position inverted. I can imagine myself saying “very small things belong to the heart.” It could be a message for a Hallmark card, but it indirectly comments on an attitude I frequently encounter.

A lot of people have much to say about others not being grateful. For some reason, they don’t sound terribly grateful themselves. Some actually demonstrate awareness of their tone and try to persuade me of all the good they’ve done, how much they’ve accomplished.

Charity, I’ve learned, is near meaningless without a charitable spirit. Even if you give, if you try to make others feel indebted or horrible, you’re trying to destroy them. “Very small things” are “for the heart” because one should not demand to be worshipped or else. The focus should be entirely different.

from "Five Haiku" (originally published in Rattle)
Deborah A. Bennett

for the heart 
very small things— 
morning sparrows. 

The separation and sequence push me towards another thought. How is it possible the heart and “very small things” go together? A lot of times, I don’t see them fit well. If a relationship breaks apart, it doesn’t feel small. It isn’t obvious that “very small things” could remedy that pain.

The heart wants big things. It wants trust which can’t be broken, security which provides both comfort and protection. It can, as noted above, become insanely jealous that others have anything, especially if others seem respected or even merely content.

“Very small things,” I believe, teach the heart. “Hope is a discipline,” the prison abolitionist Mariame Kaba says. Maybe small things aren’t natural to desire. Maybe I have to learn to embrace them. Sparrows are a lovely image in literature, but birds can be especially annoying when I want extra sleep. How they chirp when I want to focus. Or recover. It takes work to realize they’re trying to make the most of their morning. That they’re allies in trying to love life.