Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Mere Sympathy

What should one do for others who are grieving or who are in pain or who are in crisis? That is a very tough question, one I'm often tempted to answer with words like "Something" or "Anything." But sometimes something or anything feels ineffectual, rote, routine, not all that helpful. Anyway, this topic hung around my mind long enough to get me to write a poem on it. I chose rhyming couplets, for some reason, but I went light on the rhythm, which I wanted to be low key, conversational.

Mere Sympathy

I'm feeling sorry for yourself.
I bring some empathy to your shelf

of discomfort. It's such a small
gift, sitting there against the wall.

I wonder if it does you any good.
Guilt gets me thinking I should

convert it to fuel that would power me
to cook, transport, listen; to see

to something that might lessen pain;
to soothe, repair, or entertain:

something, anything, specific for you,
that is, as opposed to

this general sympathetic feeling,
which hangs above you like a ceiling.

Hans Ostrom Copyright 2008 Hans Ostrom
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