For the Sake of Strangers
No matter what the grief, its weight,
we are obliged to carry it.
We rise and gather momentum, the dull strength
that pushes us through crowds.
And then the young boy gives me directions
so avidly. A woman holds the glass door open,
waits patiently for my empty body to pass through.
All day it continues, each kindness
reaching toward another—a stranger
singing to no one as I pass on the path, trees
offering their blossoms, a retarded child
who lifts his almond eyes and smiles.
Somehow they always find me, seem even
to be waiting, determined to keep me
from myself, from the thing that calls to me
as it must have called to them—
this temptation to step off the edge
and fall weightless, away from the world.
Here’s some commentary on Laux’s poem from Ten Poems to Last a Lifetime by Roger Houdsen:
“The whole world is speaking, if only we can listen, even for a moment. The whole world is trying always to find us, to rescue us from ourselves, from our own self-absorption; from the despair that lives in everything and everyone. From this temptation to step off the edge and fall weightless, way from the world.
It is not empathy that Laux is seeking in this poem, it is immersion. She is asking us to immerse ourselves in the full experience of our humanity.”
To me, few songs convey the depth of our common bonds and our common humanity as does “Betty’s Diner” by the amazing singer/songwriter Carrie Newcomer.(Click arrow to listen)
You can find this song on her album Betty’s Diner: the Best of Carrie Newcomer. I can’t recommend her music enough for the depth of its vision and its humanity.
You can buy “Betty’s Diner” at iTunes: