Every child questions the rain
sooner or later,
wonders what it means, where it comes from--
“Those are God’s tears,” we’re told,
(though never wondering at the sadness that
A rite, these tears: like abandoning the breast
or walking to school alone
or staying out late with the third-most beautiful girl you know.
Or leaving home…
A rite: like any other circumcision that reminds
you of what you are in ways not always pleasant.
And halfway around our world
(and isn’t it ours, after all?)
children live who
cannot walk to school
or stay out late
(though they do leave home, and may again tomorrow).
Surrounded by killer angels
we struggle to understand how people can revere the same history,
claim the same home,
disbelieve the others’ same God;
how people can revisit Abel’s Cain mutiny with such cyclicality
(It is the only word, after all, which justifies.)
Those truly embattled are those who
do not yet understand siege,
who have not yet been taught to hate.
A rock is a rock to them;
a stone, a stone:
something over which small feet stumble when running for mothers.
Those truly embattled only understand
the visceral knife-stab of fear.
For the rest, there are no sharp edges,
no clean blades,
nothing to measure success or failure.
Only body counts until the next time that
wizened and shattered men pretend détente when
all that is happening
is a re-arming respite
while, in the mean time, these children will
sooner or later
come to question the rain and will be told:
“Those are God’s tears.”
But there, just there, a child asks, too:
“Then what is the thunder, omma, and what is the lightning?”