“and all your talk of this and more is becoming less and less.
Self-centered though we are at heart, survivors of war and peace,
small shrewdness is required to know the next victim of the feast.
“If you were here or we were there,
your suffering would impact us more, of course,
but that is neither here nor there.
You live at distances both real and surreal--willfully
disconnected, disastrously alone, tragically but safely apart.
“You must, we fear, suffer more or less as we do
or as others who are near and nearer to our hearts.
Justice demands that recognition, yes, but little more,
and less and less of that as these frayed threads
of time and separation gather toward an end.
That some break and others bend seems to surprise you even yet.
“So is that sad? Oh, yes, what else?
We sit in carefully bordered rooms each evening,
pining for what is lost in you and in ourselves,
pitying our surrender to surfeit or starvation,
nestled in exclusive harbors, where some ships leave and some arrive,
in sporadic dread of who goes next. No one wins, but some survive.
“We know you do not suffer gladly
the fools we are and must be to succeed,
but that's the levy, old mariner, of failures of your own,
divergent from ours, not worse perhaps, but dour freight,
resembling more an anchor than anything that floats.
“And you, at your safe distance,
press clamorously a slow cold measure of protest
against the hammer's heated claims upon your heart,
that pulsation of anger, compulsion, and frustration,
a churning churlish stain which makes uncertain
whether you or those you buffet will be next.
“You are one of us still, we know, but what we know
to love in you seems always masked behind that manic stance.
Your decades-long dance of desperation, old mariner,
by now elicits small panic in these ageing wedding guests.
“And is that sad? Well, yes, close enough, but still
you must desist this remorseless clanging in our ears.
We feel as much, if not the same, as you,
marking boundaries as you do, pursuant to our pain.”