When You Are Wounded

When someone is hurting,
the first thing they must do
is answer the question,
"Are you alright?"

It's call and response,
a ping-pong of language,
a catechism of guilt performed.

The wounded answers
between clenched teeth,
"I'm fine, I'm fine. Really."
Then the business of caring
can take place.

We will ride our invisible horses
into the wind. But we are truer
to the earth of which we are made
to say, "There is a deep abyss here
that I must climb out of — help me."

There is a silence when we reach someone
that is better than words. The silence
of grasses moved by the breeze. The silence
of a hand laid against a cheek. The silence
of a blanket laid over one's feet.

It's true: shock rises like heat
off the pavement. We come
from a far place in the wake 
of an afterthought. How will
our minds grow into our bodies?
But attention surely must be paid.

Forgive us our laggard ways —
how we now live —
we are asked to live
faster than sound,
reaction crucifying

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