Sunday, May 25, 2008

the ties that bind

I was listening to NPR today (while working on a new pasttime, Sudoku) and heard a piece about a mother and son who had been torn apart be the war in Iraq. The son serves in the special forces in the Army and the mother has been and still is an activist for peace. Their relationship became strained over politics and worldview, both struggling to understand the other.

And then poetry brought them back together. The mom had written poetry reflective of her concerns for her son, her love for her son, her concern for the world. In reading her poetry and in sharing that poetry with her son, the two came to understand one another, became close once again.

Reconcilation can happen if we take the time to really understand one another, why we think the way we think, feel the way we feel. This family found reconcilation through poetry and vulnerablity.

One of Francis Richey's poems.
"Kill School."

That was the summer he rappelled
down mountains on rope
that from a distance looked thin
as the dragline of a spider,
barely visible, the tension
he descended
into the made-up
state of Pineland
with soldiers from his class.
They started with a rabbit,
and since my son was the only one
who'd never hunted,
he went first. He described it:
moonlight, the softness
of fur, another pulse
against his chest.
The trainer showed him
how to rock the rabbit
like a baby in his arms,
faster and faster,
until every sinew surrendered
and he smashed its head into a tree.
They make a little squeaking sound,
he said. They cry.
He drove as he told me:
You said you wanted to know.
I didn't ask how he felt.
Maybe I should have,
but I was biting
off the skin from my lips,
looking out
beyond the glittering line
of traffic flying
past us in the dark.

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