When I catch myself smiling
for no reason or slipping into
a perfect slumber,
when I get a full night’s sleep
without the terrors peering from
the foot of my bed or the nightmares
kicking at my subconscious,
when I wake with a clear head,
the sun coaxing eyes to open in
the stretch of hushed morning,
when people are kind to me,
complement me, engage me, share a smile,
when I forget about my body, my bad skin,
and the failure of my facade doesn’t consume,
when I count my blessings on two hands,
grateful for my family, lover, friends, job, education,
in the glimmering moments when
I feel complete, even then,
even then it takes but a moment
for the sadness to overwhelm.
my mind slips to the cancer cradling my friends abdomen,
the lover whose addiction killed him too soon,
the earthquake on the other hemisphere,
the death and devastation,
the murdered child in the next county,
the homeless man on the side of the highway
who thanked me of a protein bar and a kind smile
It only takes a moment before
the empathy is absorbed by my skin,
the ills of this world leave me powerless,
the inability to comfort burns in my gut.
The sadness resumes
within the guilt of good fortune.
I am undeserving.
I cannot heal enough.
I cannot help enough.
I cannot be enough.
I am useless in the privilege of
my affordable rent, my paid off car,
the adoration of my lover, the pride of my mother,
every accomplishment I have ever achieved
means nothing if I cannot heal the wounds of the world.
This is hopelessness.
This is surrender to the inevitable.
This knowledge leaves me sitting solitary
eyes fixed ahead, body postured,
shoulders back, chin out,
surround by walls I created to survive.