Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘compassion’

If we have no compassion it is because we have forgotten we belong to one another.
(Mother Teresa)

 

The Neighborhood, Delicatessen, and a Baby Squirrel

 

I hold my delicatessen number as if it had first-class boarding-pass value.

No neat queue waits for meat and cheese sliced as if

a thousandth-of-a-millimeter difference per slice mattered.

Customers stand scattered.

The woman with the number before mine

buys one slice of bologna. I wonder if that is all she can afford.

Her cart holds one marked-down loaf of generic white bread.

 

My thoughts wander to a neighbor.

Yesterday he asked my husband for a small loan.

This man performs chores for sub-adequate fees.

I want to contact him, give him a small job,

call the score even, then give him a tip.

 

I know the cashier. She rescued a baby squirrel after a predator

snapped off his mother’s head. I ask how he is.

Died on Monday, she answers. She continues to scan my purchases.

I tell her she did her best.

 

And we agree we can’t save the world

yet can’t stop trying.

I notice her silent tears but don’t mention them.

A neighbor’s phone number

is pegged on my home corkboard. Earlier, when I called

to offer him a gift, some loaves of bread,

more than what we needed,

his number had been disconnected. I nod.

We can’t stop trying.

 

originally published in For A Better World 2015

 

Read Full Post »

I shut my eyes in order to see. (Paul Gauguin)

Umbrellas and I don’t get along well. I either leave them in the car or under the table at a restaurant. Several years ago, I published a poem on a For a Better World site, AEQAI, maintained by Saad Ghosn. I remembered some of those narrative poetry lines while I was driving today, rain falling, my umbrella in the trunk, my thoughts recalling the many broken people I know. Peace upon all. Without judgment.

THE BROKEN UMBRELLA

I find an old, bent umbrella

in the back of a closet,

and remember a story

about my great aunt,

the one who lived

with my grandmother.

I heard she refused to go to school,

rain or shine, without her umbrella.

Grandma laughed when she told me,

one of those tired adult laughs

I didn’t understand.

She never knew why

her little sister feared rain.

And I wouldn’t dare ask.

 

My great aunt talked about men

as if they were born as sooty coal

covered with flesh.

Genetically messy, crude, loud.

Sports without a soul.

Since I was her only niece,

my aunt sought my ear.

I tolerated her out of pity.

I pictured her as a child

at the turn of the twentieth century.

paired with her umbrella,

two closed slender shapes

surrounded by bullies

who gave fuel to her opinions.

She learned bitterness somewhere,

wore it as a badge of a holy crusade.

 

In the fifties Grandma took in a boarder,

a quiet man who ate corn flakes

doused with warm water.

My aunt latched her door at night,

and moved a bookcase

in front of it.

 

Then one night after Grandma died

I stayed overnight with my aunt,

gave her some company.

I recall her bony frame in dull, plain pajamas,

all femininity pressed out,

as she told me about an uncle,

or was it a cousin?

You won’t believe what he did to me?

By then I was old enough to guess.

But, not old enough to know

the burden of that knowledge wasn’t mine.

I remained silent.

Her secret stayed bound

within flannel and hate.

She died in a nursing home.

Alone.

 

I imagine a new scene as I discard

the useless umbrella from my closet.

What would have happened if

I could have borrowed a few years

of experience from my future,

risked touching the pain in her eyes,

and asked, what happened?

 

My old umbrella’s hollow spiked bones stick out

through torn, split fabric.

I can’t fix it. Yet, strange,

I feel an odd sadness for all things

that no longer have a chance to recover.

Read Full Post »

winter through the screen (2)_LI

All I ever wanted was to reach out and touch another human being not just with my hands but with my heart. (Tahereh Mafi)

Snow. A four-letter word. Not in a vulgar, but in a testy sense. Nevertheless, I know I’m blessed as I feel and hear warm air rise from the furnace. My husband kept a thick, warm coat in the back seat of the car until we saw a homeless man who could use it. Socks next maybe. Some packaged food…

Inside the house I wheeze. Yet, I have the medications necessary to recover. Outside, who knows how long I would last?

A cardinal stops to snack at the birdfeeder. A squirrel gorges on the feed. I look at my belly and suspect I have more in common with the squirrel.

The snow melts and then promises to appear again. Need never melts completely. However, compassion isn’t a job; it’s a way of life. 

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: