Strangers and Books—Help and Friends

Just today I had the occasion to read a storybook to a stranger named Quyaan.

She hesitated sitting down next to me,

but her dad was close by
and Dora the Explorer was in my hands.

Ladylike, she pouffed up her yellow tulle gown, sucked harder on her lollipop and settled in on the stripped rug to listen
as kindergartners do, chin up,
living Dora.
Comfortable now, Quyaan took off her sparkly shoes.
       Socks next. Divested herself of her sweater.

I thought I had her hooked-a five-year-old in the palm of my hand.
Out of nowhere then and without warning, she, and her yellow gown, leapt onto my lap.
My, I thought, I certainly am magic-

but her newfound trust in me was only in reaction
to her apparent long standing fear of big black dogs.

I comforted, we cuddled, Dora reconnoitered, and we finished with time enough to spare to find out what Barney was up to.
And she stayed in my lap, her hand still holding mine.
I read through ten kiddie books that morning,
but the world, according to Quyaan’s grasp, was just remedied.

Oh dear and gentle reader
The world offers much to fear.
Trepidation and Trouble surge in on all sides.
We are buffeted by Woe and Worry.

Why not clasp the hand of another, perhaps a stranger?
Our very lives depend on strangers, and most of us are always strangers to other people at first.
We need the companionship and help of those up to now unfamiliar.
It’s good to remember that in crises,

we human beings forget for a while our ignorances, our biases, our
prejudices. For a little while, neighbors help neighbors and strangers help strangers.

Humanity can sometimes be remedied, and sometimes by only the smallest of gestures.
And a book.

Deb Nordlie - April Volunteer of the Month

Deb is April Volunteer of the Month: she spent 39 years teaching and now spends her time helping kids at the StoryTent in City Heights. She won 2nd place at the Liberty Station Writer’s Ink short story contest and wrote this beautiful poem about her experience reading to the kids.