Veritas  Any Day Now
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Britt Leach Look, The Pain That


Look, the pain that you feel, whatever
name you give it,
your angst, your depression, wherever
it lives, behind your eyes, in your throat
as unfallen tears, a constriction, Or
whatever name your pain has been given by whomever
you have given authority over your soul,
Your pain, your so familiar pain, is not yours
and cannot be cured in you,
it cannot be cured in you

It must be said here
that your pain is not yours, no matter
the singular even scientific name
your pain has been given,
And that if you could see it, see your pain,
it would look like a hungry, shamed family
sleeping in a car

This is what I mean, I mean
that if you could move past your skin
if you could, somehow
Go inside
snake your arteries
spelunk your viscera
climb your vertebrae
to the locus of the pain that you feel
as unfallen tears, a constriction in your throat,
that when your lamp had found your hurt
it would look like a man sleeping in a cardboard box

I mean that your angst, your alienation
your cosmic dissonance, your universal incongruity
that you say
Hurts you
hurts you
even while wondering the peculiarity
of that choice of words
for what seems so clearly mental, but you say it
and use that word
I mean
that you do so because a woman living in an alley
has again been raped on a mattress of rags

Why do we confuse the meaning of our pain?
Give it to strangers to cure?
doesn’t want curing
that isn’t its category
it is not a symptom
but a cry

a cry
Like a companion was snared by vines
on the savanna where we were born,
had fallen and was broken
far from us
and we
standing in a clearing having found water
content in its coolness
suddenly felt around our leg
a vine
and a falling
and a pain
and a breaking at a distance

We hurt then and we knew
because we still had all our senses
the meaning of our pain
and its source
and where he was
and we ran, we ran
with all our strength to him
to the source of the pain we had felt at a distance
and with our poultice and our love
we helped him ease his pain

Our pain,
After all these years,
our pain
is still a cry
and we
must develop again
that sense that tells us of our pain’s true locus
beyond its echo in our heart,
and we must all begin to run
with all our strength
to help
to love
to help
for there are
so many

This poem, in a slightly altered form, originally
appeared in country CONNECTIONS

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