I a child

asked her, an adult

what does it take? To be merciful?

How much effort? Will it hurt much? Why

doesn’t the whole world

try?

And she, an adult

fiddling with her rings, two on each finger,

because she had run out of places

to exhibit her finery, her sophistication,

she, thought of where she would go

when she left our run-down, poky house

and did not return for supper

and what she would do

when she wasn’t weighed down

with runny nosed children and yellowed aprons.

She, who has the mind of three bright men

and a heart that did not really hold space

for people who could not spell, or those who were

slow, ones who did not impress, their light not bright

but stuck in amber, she said naught,

for she liked fine things

over much

and that did not include

wellington boots and children’s well played with toys

dragged through muddy pathway, leading to small houses

where there is life, oh laughing, gainful life, but raw with

the knuckles of everyday, up to their elbows in greese

and the machinations of surviving.

I, a child

asked her, an adult

what does it take? To be merciful?

watching the baby bird, turn to bone and feather

beneath the great conker tree, its crimson roots

like great yawns beneath moss, reaching through

heavy clouds with the hands of imploring worship

and life

so harsh and unwilling, to include ‘fairness’

would steal away humanities belief in kind deeds with its

brutal parsing

which is why , my grandmother, sitting on our stoop, paring apples,

with a sharp knife inherited from her father

told me once

(and she could never spell, for she left

school early to work in poorly paid factories

only once managing to get through

The Communist Manifesto).

Child, we must be good, we must be kind.

For nothing else knows how to be, they simply

act upon their instinct to survive. Like

the lambing season, when a new lamb is

born and the mother dies, we turn our eyes

heavenward but there is no tenderness, only

the brutal knot of nature, felling her herd

till balance is restored. Our human hearts

with our aching over suffering, fit poorly

with the callous hand of nature, she must

cull with her sythe irrespective of who deservse,

there is no mercy as we know it, in this

whittling of life. Only those who survive

and those who do not, dying in bleached

bones by the thoroughfare of our journey.

I thought then of you, with your

fine clothes and your well trained mind

and empty rooms filled with piano playing ghosts

how you were

much like the nature I saw around me

beautiful, wild, out for your own gain,

surviving at any cost

and I

the strange flux of humanity and terror

seeking to be merciful

among the debris of our eternal battle

with light and dark.

I knew then, why you despised me

why I loved you

it is like the fable of the scorpion and the frog

it is your nature

to sink deep into the foaming earth

showing only your glacial tip

as it is mine

to seek mercy, in unyielding hearts,

two opposite ends of the same breakage.

If we always run from being stung, in Summertime

sometimes we miss out on dawn

thus we must permit

the risk to gain, a possible reward

high in silvering trees

where the sleepy bears

hide their honey.

0 Replies to “Two opposite ends of the same breakage”

  1. What comes in mind this moment is not a poem of my own, but one borrowed, heard within or behind your words:

    The Divine Image
    By William Blake
    To Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love
    All pray in their distress;
    And to these virtues of delight
    Return their thankfulness.

    For Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love
    Is God, our father dear,
    And Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love
    Is Man, his child and care.

    For Mercy has a human heart,
    Pity a human face,
    And Love, the human form divine,
    And Peace, the human dress.

    Then every man, of every clime,
    That prays in his distress,
    Prays to the human form divine,
    Love, Mercy, Pity, Peace.

    And all must love the human form,
    In heathen, Turk, or Jew;
    Where Mercy, Love, and Pity dwell
    There God is dwelling too.

  2. Your words were visceral and set me back a few years to my own dysfunctional family. Once again, you’ve captured the feelings, the angst, and the yearning for love so well. I’d add that when you make peace with your past, it is the most uplifting and amazing feeling. At least, from my experience. <3

    1. I agree. Making peace with the past is everything. I think some people so it so well. Whilst I don’t particularly like Oprah Winfrey she is one good example of someone who has had a terrible childhood and shone so brightly irrespective. I have no idea how she accomplished that but I admire it.

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