It’s enough to sit down in the middle of the street,
the garbage trucks picking up trash,
the school buses stopping and starting,
the dirty rain falling from the neon clouds;
it’s enough to make you collapse in the middle of a speech you are
giving on human rights
or animal rights
or the right of the Earth to be as clean as it was 10,000 years ago;
enough to make you put down the pen, the gavel, the scalpel,
the international phone call,
and get on a bike and bike, hard,
to your child’s school, walk into her classroom,
and hold her tight
without apologizing to the teacher for your interruption;
it’s enough to toss the phone into the river, the computer into the lava pit,
turn to the person next to you
and offer them your hand, eye, maybe even a lung.
I’m saying I’m tired. We are all tired.
All around everyone is doing the best that they can do.
He makes the best pot roast,
she crafts the tallest building,
the bagel people whip up the best bagels,
the lovers love,
the students write the smartest papers on governmental corruption
as humanly possible and still, still, still,
there is someone outside the room with a backhoe
filled with battered Clorox bottles,
steel-tipped bullets, and vice grips ready to tear apart hearts.
It’s enough to take your feelings and slide them onto a towel,
all of your feelings, all of your human and animal feelings,
jam them into a towel,
all of your decency and rage and joy and bullshit and horror and
walk out into the street and into the mountain, the cave and the field,
and wrap up any live thing you can find in that soft cloth,
the whole world of live things,
to turn back that backhoe,
push it away into some place in the imagination
that won’t even let us imagine it anymore.
Copyright © 2020 Matthew Lippman
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Four Way Books.