Before her I am Thespis – unflinching, playing my part,
Ignoring every laden ache metered on my heart.
Before her I am Hector – yet Heaven tips the fates
And I am found here languishing – and she, beyond my gates.
Before her I am Caesar, and she the Rubicon
But I shall drown beneath her might while she rushes on.
Before her I am Vulcan – ugly, monstrous – lame
Twisting words and praise for her sweet and splendid name.
But now I am a poor man, bloodied, robbed and vile
And to mourn the truth of it – unseated by a smile.
Who beat the brown upon my skin?
Who cleft my teeth and carved my grin?
Who pressed my eyes into my face?
Who stole from me each form of grace?
Who scored and cut my ugly jaw?
Who strung my voice with its caw?
Who struck my scalp with wilting hair?
Who smote me dark and never fair?
Then tell me not, for I am flawed
That “Ye were knit by hands of God.”
“God bless you.” The Muslim lady said.
And I boiled no intense ire
For God sees naught, but rushing red
And not my father’s fire.
The Buddhist spoke. “ Peace my friend.”
And like brothers we did speak
And that wall we did not mend
But let it grow full weak.
At every altar for God I asked
But found each still and bare
But when I stood there with my kin
I found God standing there.
I have made reference to Robert Frost’s Mending Wall.
I felt full well their cringes,
Their wet and wicked skin
And when I struck that wood-
They saw no flesh-forged kin.
Through the narrow keyhole
They see not what is good
But let what lies between us
Be but hinges, hole and wood.
I knew they crouched to see me
To test me at the waist
And writhe and twist near the hole
Of what must be my face.
Think did they of my hunger
That rests upon my bones
And each sinew lulls with languor
And casts me from all homes?
Or like all did they gasp their laugh
And craft some early epitaph?
“Behind lies he who has knocked
But being a stranger finds it locked.”
Keys have I, old but chaste;
Each and every door I passed
Saw not the key in my chest
Nor the love which I possessed.