A poem by Priya Huffman
…..I began a few years ago to try to make space in my reckoning for the marvelous as well as the murderous….
Seamus Heaney, 1995 Nobel Acceptance Speech
If murderous is what we are then what of Schindler
who dared his life, risked his children every day
to save a thousand more.
If marvelous is what we are what of the Hutu men
who bolted the church doors, lit the fire, heard the
screams, danced till the embers cooled.
If cowardly is what we are, then what of the time
you lay naked with a snake, to overcome the terror
of being so afraid.
What of my friend the doctor who left his cozy home
donned a hazmat suit, and walked headlong into an
Ebola unit, if fearful is what we are.
If cruel is what we are then what of Mandela
who buried the blood soaked hatchet, left
his tormentors un-avenged.
If kind is what we are then what of the way
I spoke so roughly to the women on the path
who had done me no harm.
And what of Bruno
who knew the risks of seeing round when
flat was earth’s designated shape.
If arrogant is what we are, then what
of our not knowing
what any of us are
truly capable of?