“I don’t mind my pain. It’s their pain I can’t stand.” — Graham Greene
No matter how many dead we carry,
they are of one accord,
each craving release,
to tell his or her own truths.
Mine queue up, clamoring for attention,
starting most mornings around sunrise
and keeping at it all day long,
only taking brief late-night hiatus
when I collapse in drunken stupor
or food coma.
I carry beaucoup personal dead, but
even those I never knew
hover in the haunted creases of my brain.
Clicking on CNN,
I read about ninety-five civilians
killed in a Baghdad blast,
mothers, fathers, little ones,
single women, single men,
dreaming one of the other, and I am
thankful for their solidarity.
En masse their pleas are impersonal,
My fear is that confronting only one,
her agony would overwhelm,
devouring everything I am.