Saturday, November 20, 2021

Slow Convalescence

Without the energy of being wronged
The heaviness of forgiveness 
Wouldn't weigh down this plane to Boston:
The guilt of the ticket taker,
The shame of the steward,
The anger of the discomforted passenger.
The discerning traveler will grimace and bear
The rage of children,
The opinions of teens,
The talk of the lonely 
As if they are strong enough
To look down with kindness
On what they have forgiven in themselves.
It's the nature of co-existence,
The bravely unmasked 
Who could not compromise with truth
And the bravely masked
Who will not surrender their humanity;
Both refuse, in short, to be victims,
Something inherent in the human,
To strike a divine pose
In the face of unrelenting noise.
And if we falter sometimes,
When we hear the sirens
Cry out all the pity
We never hear about ourselves 
As the face of the rocks against spray,
We can always lift away
From what we've brought inside us,
The distant other
We only know as ourselves --
Until the tap on the shoulder comes,
"You should be just like me,
You're required to sit in your seat 
This way, don't you see?"
But it's only a voice
Despite the fluttering 
Of the heart,
A distant warmth
That stirs a heat inside you 
To resist, correct, scold --
But it is better,
One always knew,
To love,
To do this for them
Because nothing is lost
From the self
In service --
Of honoring
The raw, the unschooled, the limited,
For we once knew not 
What we knew
And told the world off
On a whim,
Sending it spiraling downward
To a break of tears.
One has learned
Not to hurt
As one as learned how not
To feel wounded,
A slow convalescence 
Forever picking at the scab
But growing something 
Beyond a thicker skin,
A kind of compassion,
An inner resilience,
The idea that one's soul
Does not need keeping,
For it watches like a clock
In the place without time
Marking each moment of movement 
So that each one connects 
In a jeweled thread,
A beginning, then an end,
With a spring in between,
Each tick another choice
On how to be,
What is the scale
Of the journey.
The innocent are wise
As the action rises
On the play,
The costumes we don't recognize 
Become the characters 
We wear our hearts inside:
The garish red, the torn velour,
The front of lace 
Woven to deceive
The distant eyes;
How could we not react
To a bauble the size of an egg?
Backstage it must be a relief
To peel the greasepaint away
But deadly serious on the stage
In the silence of lamplit dust --
What words will slake the endless flame?
I have only these I was given to say.