13 June 2020

Surfing with Danger

Waves and waves of danger beset our lives
when we eat the leftovers from the plates
of the privileged classes.  At home and work
the most danger is ours.  Visible or invisible, 
toxins and tides surround us--
and we are told to be grateful for our fate.

You seem surprised to hear me speak this way—
this educated white Euro-American women, retired
teacher with a pension that affords her a small,
but safe non-toxic home.  Not all doors readily opened
for me, but not because my skin is black or brown.
I can open my mind, even if I rarely open my door.

I dream about being on a raft, unstable unless
I reach in the water and haul other people on board,
people who huddle together gratefully, unable
in the moment to notice class and race—unable
because labels are unreal.  We are human together,
none of us hoarding the opportunity to survive.

Added later:

I dream of not being on the raft, but among those
reaching toward safety.  Will I be pulled on board?
Does it matter?  In dreams, I do not die.  Even in deathbed 
dreams, I am awake, listening.  In this dream, I don't know 
if I am saved, only that I happily let others go first.

I have been unable to respond to  George Floyd's murder yet in this week that finally moved the country to the civil disobedience and rage that Gets. Things. Done. 

My blog poems are rough drafts.
   Please respect my copyright.
 If you quote, credit this page.
     © 2020 Susan L. Chast


Kerfe said...

We not only need to acknowledge our privilege, we need to be willing to share it. Well said.

Helen said...

A beautiful write, Susan.

Sherry Blue Sky said...

I love that helping others aboard is the way to stabilize the tipping raft.............and LOVE the third stanza - in times of threat or turmoil, we set aside everything except being human together, and reach out for each other. I hope this will continue as we face covid, climate crisis and healing the racial divide. Wonderful poem, Susan. Like you, my words seemed to dry up, under the weight of all we are living through.

Brendan said...

The mass of the moment -- its volume, violent edges, despair -- can't help but echo hard and loud through the safer rooms some of us are privileged and bound to live in. There are so many oppressions, and though they aren't equal, they are all real. That's the raft we share I think, and the common element is, as you say empathy, that ability to "huddle together gratefully," refusing to hoard "the opportunity to survive." Hard to write anything these weeks, and yours rings the justice bell clearly. Well done - Brendan

Kim M. Russell said...

I love the way you’ve expanded on the old adage ‘we’re all in the same boat’, Susan. I like the line ‘I can open my mind, even if I rarely open my door’, and the image of the raft.