The only good stories retold come back
to worldly mercy, which is flippant
and jars us from the character endowed in us
by those who will love us the longest
and with the most detail. We are always
the sum of our caveats and addendums.
I am very close. I was very close to one young
man whose last choice was driving his Kia
as safely as possible on flat and well-paved Kansas
roads while also driving so fast he hummed along
to the car’s loosening, which sharpened
to vibrato and was then rendered
to chants. I have grown past private hesitation
and acceleration and my shame is healthy
and portioned. Every thought I have
becomes a last one: I am at odds with my father,
though I am also a father and am also
at the age when my empathy should be pointed
in all the right directions. I stop. I am stopping
myself and moving to the floor to complete
my exercises. All day every day. My ache
is worldly and unlike the ache of others.
It is not abstract. I am loved under the conditions
I agreed to, which means I am turned
and have been turned on.
With this one I just wanted to say something about mercy.