Small Things
by Joan Leotta

Wringing my hands at the size,
the number of our world’s wounds
thinking there’s nothing I can
do leaves the world in tears
Yes, I’m just one small person.
So, I take small steps,
to stem the flow of hurt.
I turn off the water
while I brush my teeth,
pick up trash
while I pick up shells,
turn off lights
when I leave a room.
When I see others, I smile,
treasuring the beauty of
each person I encounter,
hoping a smile
will shore up their spirits
against a climate of frowns
Each of these small acts,
I hope gives our earth’s wounds
a kiss “to make it better.”

IMAGE: Work No. 275 (Small Things), art installation by Martin Creed.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I anguished over this one—there was so much I wanted to say! But in the end, what worked for me to make a poem was to think of myself as a mother, when no matter how big or small the hurt my children had, a kiss could still make it at least somewhat better.

informal headshot joan leotta

Joan Leotta is a writer and story performer who lives in Calabash, North Carolina, where she walks the beach, smiles at neighbors, and gets up to admire the dawn almost every day.