Dearest, I meant to prove myself worthy
of every challenge, up to death itself.
The day began with feats of strength, like
getting out of bed and brushing my teeth.
I took till noon to venture out; by then
the mid-day sun hovered angrily,
a hive of wasps I couldn’t swat away.
Where had all the shade gone? I retreated
to bed, but the covers burned my skin; I heard
the oppressive buzz of insects under my pillows.
I promised, if not perfection, improvement:
to fulfill my personal manifest destiny.
My religion was willpower, my trial this bed-bound
agony. And what is on the other side—what awaits
those who, after decades dreaming dreams
of glory, inch their way down to the valley floor?
I am in a field of tombs, each a cautionary tale.
To my right, a king who thought he could tame
the sea. To my left, a pauper who drowned to show
he couldn’t. Some get it right. Others die for nothing…
When were you going to tell me that a sincere but
wrongly held belief is no less wrong for being sincere?
Saturday, August 14, 2022