The Pursuit of Bravery: Both Poison and Fine Wine

Author: John Lucas Kovasckitz

Written from Jodhpur, India...an extension of “We Shall Overcome”.

 

The wheel of human suffering
begins and ends and starts again with ignorance;
and ignorance can be a choice,
for I know in my spirit that I have chosen not to see you.
I have spun the wheel with my eyes closed.

 

This land makes me uncomfortable to the core.
There are no good hiding spots -
for you or for me.
Here you have no modesty,
and I am not quick enough to avert my eyes.

 

I have seen your nakedness;
why did you expose yourself to me?

I have seen your hunger,
your thirst,
your sickness.
I have smelled the reek of your poverty -
y
our filthy hands have grasped mine,
r
efusing to release.

 

Is my life worth more than yours?
I know the answer to win applause,
b
ut I know the true response of my heart.
For if this were not the case,
m
y conscience could no longer float in the sea of my guilt.

 

But you beg not for the paltry coins of my guilt,
f
or guilt requires only a meager sum for relief.
No, you seek a ransom -
t
he fortune of my awareness,
m
y presence,
m
y very being.
You ask for all that I have to give;
f
or awareness is the road to love,
a
nd love requires The Path of Suffering.
I have seen without Seeing;
t
o be aware is to suffer.

 

I do not know if I can leave the comfort of my home behind.

 

This land makes my inheritance of perceived righteousness seem a curse.
I did not ask to be born into the false promised land,
o
n the winning side of this invisible border drawn in the dirt.

 

I have taken pride in my righteousness,
b
ut is this blamelessness in the sight of others
m
erely the privilege of my unearned inheritance of violence?
Starvation has never required my hands to steal,
o
r to harm another in fear of someone also hungry or afraid.

 

Oh God, why must you have come as a beggar?
You have shown me my own nakedness,
m
y own violence,
m
y own hunger,
m
y own thirst.
I am a false king from a false kingdom.

 

Oh God, I am willing to see.
Spit on your filthy hands and rub the blindness from my eyes.
Kneel with me on the banks of the Ganges,
a
nd we’ll sift for the gold left behind by those gone before -
s
mall as babies when they’re thrown back to the water.

 

The river is murky with death,
b
ut this is holy water -
b
oth poison and fine wine:
t
he wine of brotherhood.
Dip my body in the waters before the pyre
burn the ignorance of my flesh.

 

For in this water I am you and you are me.

 

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