Let me be clear:
In the face of hate and fear,
I choose hope and love.
But what about the Ku Klux Klan?
What about the yahoos in the gas station:
“Watch out. We’re in charge again”?
What about the man to the woman, “Bow down”?
What about the weeping eight-year-old Mexican boy?
I will not demonize.
I will not stew in cozy bile.
I will live with the complex pain of living —
yeah, that slash and gash and throb
and nerve-ending scream.
I will act not
on shadows and phantoms.
I will offer cheek, coat, open wound.
Yes, I want to curl up and close my eyes
and suck at some convenient breast,
but I choose to look into the face of each soul
and — hard as it is — to show my true face,
the face I am trying to find.
I have seen fear kill —
over the centuries and in a backyard in Oak Lawn.
I know the nails were hammered into innocent wrists.
He could have gotten up the night before
and walked out of that fetid garden.
Afraid, he chose.
He died. And, later,
the cave was empty,
an echo space full of fear or hope.
Patrick T. Reardon