Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Beirut Journal Day #25: For Mariame

She floats under
oceans of fabric
on Rue Bliss
grips a cigarette
like a crucifix
to combat the onset
of winter
she lives
here but is not from
here she seeks
refuge but is not
a refugee she drags deep
and exhales her last
a halo of smoke
crowns her head
I can't help but to think that I have failed. I shut my door, more than once, on this woman who said she had nowhere else to go. I ask myself what June would've done? What would she think of my (in)action.

Was this an opportunity for true human kindness, for solidarity with a solitary, and vulnerable woman? Or a time for skepticism, to protect my own self-interest? Of course, I made my choices.

I'd be lying if I said that I don't feel ashamed. Also, I'd be lying if I said I'd do the opposite if she shows up tonight. Indeed, I would not offer to share my space with her.

It's funny how shame, or guilt, exist in the same space as certainty of action.

As this day draws to a close, these things are clear: I am not good. I am not clean. I have done shameful things, things that are in direct conflict with values that I profess to hold dear. And I'll do more things that I will not be proud of.

At the same time, I have been a part of things that give me a deep sense of gratitude and pride. I have tried and succeeded, at times, to do something capital "G" Good. And I am not done there either.

This whole experience is definitely serving to keep me humble, and humility is a Good and necessary force when engaging in the type of work that I'm trying to do.

I think Arundhati Roy sums up the contradictions beautifully below:

Once you've seen certain things, you can't unsee them, and saying nothing is as political an act as speaking out. There is no innocence. That I'm sure about....I'm not a completely blameless person campaigning for the good of mankind. But from that un-pristine position, is it better to say nothing or to say something?




pk said...

your thoughts are very much what i was thinking about my own day today. i walked away from an opportunity to "over" extend myself, in the hospital. and on a "that's life"-way it was probably appropriate, but on the personal level of "find your mission on the planet"-way, it was completely out of sinc with what i should have done.

my life isn't palestine, but i hear ya brother. keep writing trev. i am reading.


Steel Hannah said...

i love this poem