The Shelter of Righteousness

What good was in the world has gone,
if we proclaim, with innocence,
that justice has escaped our grasp,
while our hands show no sign of fight
and, at the end of stiffened arms
held at our sides, are soft and smooth.

And if those cloaks with which we hide
ourselves from other seeking eyes
do not after long years of wear
reveal at least a trace of mud,
perhaps it does no good to claim
our journey long and filled with strife.

Our eyes, that show no signs of stress
from endless nights by candle flame,
but still reflect an inner calm,
their focus fixed upon ourselves —
how dare we claim to see the prize
that others seek as merely dross.

With honeyed tongues, we speak of pain
as if it were a passing whim;
and would say it miraculous,
an intervention of the gods,
that our great struggle for the right
to live as we choose has found its end.

How smug and righteous we’ve become,
to think the universe so small
that it will measure its success
by how our fickle fortunes fall.
If we would claim all but us wrong,
what good was in the world has gone.

05 FEB 2005

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