Sparked by Words

Posts tagged ‘fortune’

Go You or I

Ninety-nine point nine percent of all the people in the world are exactly the same. Exactly. We are more kin than stranger. We are more alike than different. We share more than we own. The infinitesimal difference between us is nothing much at all, and is often due more to luck than intent.

No, it isn’t because of all the wonderful things we’ve individually accomplished to make ourselves uniquely special. It isn’t because we’ve worked so diligently that we’ve earned our blessings. It’s just blind luck.

As blind as justice that lets most criminals escape and most victims suffer without relief and many innocent bear the weight of the true criminal. As blind as the man dragging his fingers along the wall that keeps him out before he realizes it’s a barrier to keep him from falling into a chasm. As blind as the baby in the womb who can’t see his mother’s face yet trusts that the salty sea will continue to nourish until he’s pulled into a dry embrace that feels aberrant . Until he is calmed by those arms, those breasts, those noises so unlike the lu-DUB lu-DUB he’d found his first salve, and falls asleep to his new comfort.

We all need and want, dream and aspire. You the limelight, her the career, him the acknowledgement, them the community, me the opportunity. Really, no more a difference than a wooden plaque or bronze statue.

And after the applause or the star on the chart, all we really want is to be loved.

Someone who gets us and gives to us, who wants to be near us in body and thought, to hear our voice the last sound at night, to say our name first thing in the morning , to share our vision and argue about what that might be. To hold our hand when we worry, cool our head when we fever, weep with us over our failures, and admonish us when we step out of line.

It’s because we are loved – because YOU are loved, that I want to say to you: The path has few markers we can see, the cheers never last until dawn, the shelf on which the trophy sits gets dusty faster than we can earn another. None of that matters as much as that you are here in the world. And that someone loves you.

When you fear the ache, when you despise the dark hole, when doubt makes you nauseous, when you believe that one more moment is unbearable, reach out. The despair is temporary. The flesh burn heals. The tumult in your soul calms. Call someone and talk. Call me and I’ll listen. Put out your hand, we’ll grab hold and not let go.

Ninety-nine point nine percent of all the people in the world are exactly the same.

Except one of those people loves you. Do not forget nor forsake the one who loves you. For if that momentary relief by rope or pill or bullet or knife removes the pain from your heart, it empties the pain into the one who loves you. And it stays forever in their marrow, as long as they live. Their tears never dry, they wonder always if they were the reason, they search every frontier trying to find the explanation. Trying to bring you back. Trying to remind you that they miss you and need you.

We are all saddened and shocked by the suicides last week of two remarkably talented and admired superstars. Heroes who brought us the world and brought the world to our door. As much as we, their fans and supporters, miss them and wonder what crucial need we didn’t fill on their behalf, it is the two young daughters left behind who will bear the weight of their absences.

Ninety-nine point nine percent of all the people in the world are exactly the same. But those young girls are unique and different. They were your point one percent. I wish you’d lingered over their pictures one millisecond longer because I bet you would have reconsidered your actions. I bet you would still be here. Please do not let your permanent solution be their permanent grief.

There but for fortune, may go you or I.

 

The title words Go You or I are borrowed from the song There But for Fortune written by Phil Ochs in 1964. He was a brilliant and sensitive man who suffered from mental instability and succumbed to his despair by committing suicide in 1976. Before that, Phil Ochs left a legacy of hundreds of songs about the many social and political issues that brought him to grief. His work has been sung by dozens of famous recording artists and is on the lips of the millions of us who remember him and hope he knows we still praise the man who helped make us aware of the rest of the world.

 

Weeping Nude, 1914, by Edvard Munch

 

 

 

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A Walk to Darfur

Footsteps, two impressed across a hot shore, singular in

Width and curve but universal in contour: right foot then left

Female, all toes present. Circles and lines of footprints

Circling everywhere yet nowhere of importance, no urgency

Toes squish into sand, sea froth propels imprints toward

Currents surging between highways of migrating whales

Mixing with ocean currents that crash onto beaches

In Africa

Footprints, millions impressed into parched desert earth

Stones, sharp edged, cutting into weary, barefoot flesh of

Solemn boys and hollow girls. Heels and toes press for safety

Skin black as core, eyes plead, voice a language I’ve never heard

Words of their fathers and mothers, ghosts maimed and slain

Haunt the journey of these children, alone, seeking haven

Forcing their feet to bear the weight of flight, the quest

For refuge

Only fortune chose me for an afternoon strolling at the shore

While these children march into the fear of night, away from

Known terror to unknown future. Stalwart grandparents

Remained in Africa’s torrid cradle amid the realm of ancestors

My footprints match the children’s bearing ghosts of Africa

Their toes as long as mine, the arch of their feet as high.

They walk. They flee across Africa’s night, black as

Snuffed stars

My claim the bounty of my grandparents’ choice

A million years ago when the sun burned beneath their feet

Walking from the cradle of Africa to Europe to ships bound for

America where I, descendent, wander on a glazed beach

Aimless steps trekked on hot shore, washed by seas

Luck the gift of my heritage, I walk a tranquil coast

The children walk on vital paths. Tomorrow I walk

To Darfur

Copyright Sharon Bonin-Pratt 2013

Author’s Note: This poem was written a several years ago and refers of course to the genocide in Darfur, Sudan in the early 2000’s. While much of the conflict in Darfur has been resolved, the dichotomy of fortune has not been repaired for so many in our world. I hope in this season of joy and celebration that we all find a way to bridge the chasm, whether via an invitation to share at table, a donation to a worthy cause, or an act of kindness for someone else.

May you enjoy the holidays with your loved ones and may you be blessed and recognize your blessings.

(Addendum: I have absolutely no idea why the site insisted on boldfacing some lines of the poem. It is not written this way and I can’t get it to correct.)