Mercy

picasso-woman-with-fanYour mother would scold you

pick yourself up ugly child

clean your room, scrub and polish

until there is no room for doubt

you may be unloved but

you will keep a straight back and shiny shoes

 

and you

learned quicker than a mouse

can covet cheese and steal itself a piece

to keep yourself small and burning

for a time to pounce

back under the hot lights of attention

turn this way and that until you are

bronzed like an award you make yourself

for surviving

 

I am owed

you think as you spit on your reflection with shirt cuff

and shine it brand new

I am owed

for my childhood

all the taint it took, not to reduce to rubble

instead I built myself a fort and became unbreakable

 

because this world eats the tender-hearted

with morels and mustard for breakfast

crushes underfoot truth in her glass orb

it is better we inherit the sharp cold heart of our destroyers

lift up our skirts and cross the puddles

with insulated rubber boots

than wallow in the frigid water

wondering why

most of what we do and say is

superficial and a lie to

garner peace and stifle the dagger

aimed at our center

 

all good but for the gentle

soul who can no more hurt than

turn away from need

she who cups water in her hands

to feed the thirsty flower

struggling to grow through concrete

by the side of exhaust-ridden road

what miracles we behold

surviving against the odds

it is this solace

keeps us staying who we are

when the world would pitch fire

extinguishing mercy

leaving battlefields full

for crows to pick through

we endure, laying down our

arms, our faces pointed toward

the clouds and wait

for rain to pour down

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