September 2018

Back to Issue 4


By Felicity Plunkett

Three things in human life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. And the third is to be kind. 
~ Henry James


          It is you who smooths the quilt over

          my sleep-shards, you

          who do not yet live here,

          but blaze silently. 




                    My hand in this injury, if not

                    in its stitching. 

                    Where do I look, if not

                    always to escape?




                                                  Compassion’s small font: words folded back

                                                  or care-drafted.

                                                  Needlekind, brine, witness

                                                  to both wound and cure. 




Patiently, sitting on hospice bed- 

edge, you adjust 

the leaky cannula 

tune its little reed. 




                    Holding – not your all, yet, though you rest

                    your head against

                    mine – space. Be patient. Trust

                    stirring in the bud.




                                                  Triage dreams: sirens, emergencies

                                                  ordered, borders

                                                  unsealed. Always alone

                                                  when pain climbs to ten.




     The one who lost the most gives away

     more. A giving

     like soap to blade, salvaged

     hope, ocean-rope, gauze. 




                    When you are in danger, who am I

                    with such small gifts:

                    a poultice of godless

                    prayer, mute infusion. 




                                                       Obscure calculus: abacus beads

                                                       falling like teeth.

                                                       And from your own torn mouth:

                                                       consolation, calm. 




       The way that, when you knew, you didn’t

        break me again,

        instead, let fragile light

        settle while I spoke. 




                    Still more? Like bonus steak knives, this love:

                    where to put it?

                    Let me sweep the crumbs off 

                      the table. Let me. 




                                                  You know how to hold space: strange physics

                                                  with me, without

                                                  need, demand: where mourning

                                                  ebbs, lives next to love. 




     All threads in a weave of kin, all roots

     that take you down

     to glasswords sandbroken

     ground small beyond sound.




                                   Where all tongues lose their language, all hands 

                                   let go, forget 

                                   force, put down their cudgels –  


                                   Where all that divides 

                                   us calculates its losses and I 

                                   am made to learn


                                   grace, in the place silence 

                                   breaks, bruises open 

                                   dark sails – I want to know one thing, try 


                                   to hold it, try

                                   again, to be kind, to

                                   be kind, to be kind.