Today's poem is by Jean Nordhaus

The Innocent

Alone and together, we stand on the platform
a mob of strangers awaiting a train. There may be
among us a wifebeater; surely a thief. That man
in the blue dolphin tie; that frazzled woman,
gathering in her scattered girls; each of us caught
in the swill of our being; none of us blameless,
not one of us pure. Greedy, covetous,
selfish, vain, we have trafficked in lies; we
have practiced small cruelties. Even the baby,
asleep in a sling on his mother's breast,
has been willful, has shaken with rage.

Yet, if fate arrives, as a wind, in a bullet,
a bomb, at the instant of shock, in the silent
heart of conflagration, we will all
be transformed into innocents, cleansed
in the fires of violence, punished not for any sins
commited—but for standing where we stand,
together in the soft, the vulnerable flesh.

Copyright © 2005 Jean Nordhaus All rights reserved
from West Branch
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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