Knee-jerk

Standard

4.18 Knee-jerk

I see us express our sadness
Only to be told told we are sad about the wrong thing
Or that our grief is misplaced
Knee-jerk reactions
To the sense that a perspective is skewed
The wool has been pulled over one’s eyes
Leaving them to weep as babies do
When mommy leaves the room.
How lovely, to be smart enough to know
The best use of other peoples’ tears.
Grief is not a zero sum game,
Nor is empathy.
There is no scale of proper sorrow.
Her dead cat and his dead faith are allowed to coexist.
If anything, since neither exists anymore,
They are more alike than they were before.
Pause before you kick out a pithy reminder
Of how misguided those tears are.
Allow for personal mourning.
At least for forty-eight hours, please.

***

I found myself really bothered by the backlash on my social media about those of us sad for Notre Dame. One post in particular drew my attention – a smug little tweet assuming that the people weeping for Notre Dame were blind and callous towards the immigration crisis or other tragedies. No. No! Grief is not a zero sum game (the inspiration line for today’s piece). I can recognize tragedy regardless of where it is.

(I know the backlash is more towards the Church / obscenely rich people – fine with that. But don’t lump all the mourners into an ignorant glob.)

This week the poetry has been difficult to find…

Compassion

Standard

We make the correct decision.
Our hearts are not in it.
To show mercy, compassion, and faith
Seems to yield little but bleeding.
We sense that rage and retribution
Are attractive alternatives.
That grinding a heel would feel
So. goddamn. satisfying.
But we open our arms all the same,
Sensing relief,
Anticipating pain.
We know the correct decision
Will always be tarnished by a second-tier truth:
That cruelty exists in us all.
Still we open our arms
In the faint and persistent hope of being better
than our baser selves.
Of achieving enlightenment from charity.
Our hearts are not in it.
Slapped a time too many to truly shine anymore,
All we can do is stretch out our arms
And try, once more, to heal.