“When another person makes you suffer, it is because he suffers deeply within himself, and his suffering is spilling over.” –Thich Nhat Hanh
is what you had
in common–that and
big beards, big egos,
hurt hearts and rage.
And need. The kind
that reaches for anyone
obedient, soft, self-destructive,
the kind of woman who believes
“she deserves it,” probably
because she is woman, humble,
someone once asked by a friend,
“Why are you so obsequious?”
I didn’t know what the word meant,
but I thought I liked the sound.
I looked it up, frowned, argued
with us both, “That isn’t me.”
Later, I used the word in a poem,
“Swimming Out to the Island.”
A teacher told me it didn’t fit–
a shoreline is not “obsequious.”
I countered that sand gave way to footprints,
footprints were erased by waves,
shells, stones and beach
dragged abysmally by pitiless sea.
She didn’t agree.
But I kept the description anyway,
held tightly to my word,
preserved it with the others,
those that meant violence and violation,
manipulation, storm and denial,
some more I’d almost forgotten.
I collected each specimen as evidence,
studied them like a science,
arranged them as something sensible,
waiting for someone wise
to read the story with me.
Copyright September 9, 2012