Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Weighed down

No, that's actually not a reference to ED. Wonder of wonders, I do possess the ability to talk about something else.

It refers to the way I felt after reading this article on the BBC website. If you can think of a more forgotten and neglected group of people than mentally ill prisoners in Nigeria, please let me know. Thing is, there are plenty - too many - people who are as forgotten, as abused and hurt. See Sri Lanka, Darfur, the Congo. See trafficked children, see favelas. And so on.

I know it's solipsistic navel-gazing to bemoan the state of the world, but life is a crapshoot. So much comes down to where you're born. And for some people life is just grinding, unmitigated suffering. And yeah, I know I say that from my comfortable Western point of view. Still.

Bah. Sadness. It makes me think of Theodore Roethke's poem "The Meadow Mouse," and I know it's "emo" to post poems in your blog, but here it is:


In a shoe box stuffed in an old nylon stocking
Sleeps the baby mouse I found in the meadow,
Where he trembled and shook beneath a stick
Till I caught him up by the tail and brought him in,
Cradled in my hand,
A little quaker, the whole body of him trembling,
His absurd whiskers sticking out like a cartoon-mouse,
His feet like small leaves,
Little lizard-feet,
Whitish and spread wide when he tried to struggle away,
Wriggling like a minuscule puppy.

Now he's eaten his three kinds of cheese and drunk from his
bottle-cap watering-trough--
So much he just lies in one corner,
His tail curled under him, his belly big
As his head; his bat-like ears
Twitching, tilting toward the least sound.

Do I imagine he no longer trembles
When I come close to him?
He seems no longer to tremble.


But this morning the shoe-box house on the back porch is empty.
Where has he gone, my meadow mouse,
My thumb of a child that nuzzled in my palm? --
To run under the hawk's wing,
Under the eye of the great owl watching from the elm-tree,
To live by courtesy of the shrike, the snake, the tom-cat.

I think of the nestling fallen into the deep grass,
The turtle gasping in the dusty rubble of the highway,
The paralytic stunned in the tub, and the water rising,--
All things innocent, hapless, forsaken.


Harriet said...

There are so many people in the world that are a gazillion times worse off than me that I am ashamed of myself for even living. And that makes me ashamed of being ashamed. Think I'm self absorbed much?

So anyway - I noticed you live in Athens Ohio. Do you go to Ohio U by any chance? My son is a student there.

I just found your blog, and I look forward to reading it - I have food confusion too. It's an epidemic I think.

Lisa said...

Heya Harriet - I can't get the email link to work, so shoot me a message!

Anonymous said...

I remember finding that poem in one of our English books--freshman year, maybe?--and just reading that last stanza over and over for the rest of class.