THESE FLEETING TEMPLES WE MAKE TOGETHERA letter from Evy from Belgium came to my husband’s glorious Red Hand Files last week. What an uplifting and urgent poem. Thank you Evy for this small kindness. Here is a portrait of Claude Bernieres (1939) from the brilliant Belgian painter, James Ensor in return. Love Susie. x

Dear Susie,

To start the new year with a little lightness, I send you a poem by Danusha Lameris, ‘Small Kindnesses’ because people are in need of these lights.

Evy, Ghent, Belgium

Small Kindnesses

I’ve been thinking about the way, when you walk down a crowded aisle, people pull in their legs

to let you by. Or how strangers still say “bless you” when someone sneezes, a leftover

from the Bubonic plague.

“Don’t die,” we are saying.

And sometimes, when you spill lemons

from your grocery bag, someone else will help you

pick them up. Mostly, we don’t want to harm each other.

We want to be handed our cup of coffee hot,

and to say thank you to the person handing it.

To smile at them and for them to smile back.

For the waitress to call us honey when she sets down the bowl of clam chowder,

and for the driver in the red pick-up truck to let us pass.

We have so little of each other, now. So far

from tribe and fire. Only these brief moments of exchange.

What if they are the true dwelling of the holy, these fleeting temples we make together when we say “Here, have my seat,” “Go ahead—you first,” “I like your hat.”

All the best to you and your family, and I hope to see you again in 2024!

Love, Evy