Steal It Back

A Poem

I don’t write much poetry, but there are times when prose doesn’t do the trick.

I wrote this poem to help myself climb out of this pit of despair I’ve been feeling in the wake of Charlottesville and everything else. It seems to have worked its magic, because I’m feeling like myself again.

Steal it Back

I can’t watch Nazis march
And I can’t look at the bodies on the ground
And I can’t listen to an old man’s racist rant
And I can’t ignore that Asian driver joke
Violence is writ large and prejudice is writ small
But the handwriting all looks the same

No one can save us
From the darkness in our hearts
And there’s nothing left
Inside mine to break

I abandon this world
For the one on the page
With dragons and knights
Or clever women solving crimes
Where the good guys win
And the bad guys don’t

Next week I’ll try again
To care
To look
To see
To understand

But not today
I can’t watch
I can’t be in this world
I can’t

Here is your invitation
To turn off the news
And power down your phone
To ignore all the commentary
For a day, or a week
Or as long as you need

Take a book off your shelf
Or get lost in the stacks
At your library – that glory of civilization!
And fall down deep into a story
Like a healing sleep

You can bake some cookies today
Or go for a walk beneath the trees
And watch “Singing in the Rain”
Then copy those sweet dance moves
In your pajamas, in the living room

Reclaim yourself now
By delighting in small things
The steam rising from your big green teacup
The first few leaves on the sidewalk
The cool smoothness of your sheets at night
And the shape of your lover’s hands

These times drain our hope
And we must steal it back
By remembering the gifts
Of an ordinary life

Reclaim yourself now

Because only then
Can we write the story
This story
Of the time we lost hope
And how we stole it back
In those chaotic days
Before we knew that we’d won