He complained, did this citizen, to his
Alderman about the injustice of sidewalks,
About the poorer people who wouldn’t
Pay for them the way he had to. The day
Was bright, he stood righteous, while
The Alderman watched and said nothing.
The man discomfited became, as well, silent,
But moved his feet restlessly. Then finally:
‘Maybe I shouldn’t complain. Those people
Can’t help their state. I should know that.’
And then a woman phoned about those
Same poor people who would benefit
By subsidy housing, habitat for humanity.
‘Why should we be taxed to help that riff-raff?
They’ll ruin this neighborhood, lower the value
Of my house so to trap me with them here.’
The Alderman said nothing. Silence deepens.
Then she wept. ‘I know I shouldn’t be that way.
It’s not very Christian, is it?’ He said nothing.
But he heard the anger behind her tears.
There is no Law in the spaces between words.
There is no Ethics in the clarity before ideas.
There is no Morality in the emptiness of clear
Water no longer muddy. Just a mirror,
Flawless, reflective, wherein one sees
One’s own meanness. The Clarity does
Not judge, but requires its reflected self
To endure its own judgement. The sidewalk
Discomfits. The man’s feet pace restless;
Shelter of the Other brings on her guilty tears.