Friday's Passing Fancy: A Shadow Life/Light of Sobriety

My instinct is to pause near the weakened

and set apart, those men who shuffle bayside

with drooping eyes and lax arms as if waiting for a ferry

that has never come for them so why stay,

those women whose lips are dusted with crumbs,

no drink to wet and warm the slow tongue.

They speak different languages or none at all

but their stillness or words slip about me like lassos;

I am tugged toward a hidden cry of a mind

that seeks and cannot find.

It makes me homesick

for a happiness that can come to all.

You pull back- say we all must find our own way.

Distance may be the strong fence that keeps you in

a safer place, away from possibilities of

madness or privation, as if that suffering

will resurrect yours, bring you to your knees.

I say let us all kneel and nod in recognition:

humanity is dragged through life as well as lifted.

Let us net pain and give it refuge,

carry to brazen streets or yielding sky

any pleas for mercy as a potent offering.

Let slouching man and thirsty woman

meet our eyes with theirs and be known,

feel no shame of crippling loss. It is no sin

to be alive and stumble or to sense

an invisible gathering of angels or others

as their hearts labor for them without judgement.

To be is all any of us we have;

we are each given this, our chance.

Once we were closer to this than believed:

one man, one woman who carved

obdurate caves in which to conspire or hide,

and came the drink, a failed banishment of grief’s specter,

and the drug, a frail bandage to repair bloodletting.

Listen, I know those ones are my people as much

as those who manage dawn to dark with boldness,

heads so high. They have their own tender spots,

their lack of surety. I am not fooled.

I am versed in the strategies it takes to live.

You and I live like common meadowlarks,

migratory, adaptive, field and wood, art and hope

and Divinity the common passkeys

as we careen through lighting strikes of love or fury,

and ride on a wind that sings hallelujah

then drops us in mud and shining grasses.

Earthbound, still.

We know that sun and moon light disguise

and reveal, that shadows and darkness

do the same. One cannot live without

learning navigation, noting signs, getting honest.

But the truth is a shape shifter:

though we live in plenty and strength now

we could be leaning over water’s edge,

or crouched with bread heel in trembling hands

and passersby would turn their heads

only to become blind, or to soon forget.

We must never forget our sisters and brothers,

their bravery and their ache,

what we were, too, yet were welcomed

into a circle and given reprieve.

We must not forget this, how tenuous the line,

and give not pity but dignity,

an easy nod, good word, a signal of love.

2 thoughts on “Friday's Passing Fancy: A Shadow Life/Light of Sobriety

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