147. What I Would Give: Rafael Campo

If you keep track of such things, you might notice that it has been awhile since the last post and this one.

I am not inspired.

In much of anything.

The past six months have been listless, with my enjoying my own kids but little else. Numb. Not moribund, but that zest of a hopeful future has been missing. Slowly, it has returned with the spring, but the inspired lessons and my own personal passions for writing have laid dormant these past few months. And the most depressing part has been that I know it, and I have been unable to jump start.

Listening to my kids’ “Jedi Quest” tapes as I lay with them to sleep, I know that it is okay to lie still and let the Force take us. Sometimes inaction is an action. But it is not particularly satisfying. Obi Wan keeps telling Anakin that, and I know what happens to Anakin because he doesn’t take the lesson to heart, but I certainly understand how he goes down the path to the dark side.

So, I forced myself to find a poem. In years past I had done end-of-year poems and summer poems. This time, I looked for poems about not caring. And this one made me care. So, enjoy, even as your students are probably gone for the summer.

Buy Me!

What I Would Give
By Rafael Campo

What I would like to give them for a change
is not the usual prescription with
its hubris of the power to restore,
to cure; what I would like to give them, ill
from not enough of laying in the sun
not caring what the onlookers might think
while feeding some banana to their dogs—
what I would like to offer them is this,
not reassurance that their lungs sound fine,
or that the mole they’ve noticed change is not
a melanoma, but instead of fear
transfigured by some doctorly advice
I’d like to give them my astonishment
at sudden rainfall like the whole world weeping,
and how ridiculously gently it
slicked down my hair; I’d like to give them that,
the joy I felt while staring in your eyes
as you learned epidemiology
(the science of disease in populations),
the night around our bed like timelessness,
like comfort, like what I would give to them.


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