Said the Lion to the Bear

When Adam was three, a lion, a gorilla, and a bear were lurking in his bedroom.

I took the lion, the gorilla and the bear by the hand and led them outside.

It was only a doll, soft and touchable, in a family where hugging was questionable, where quasi humans rationed approval in grudging teaspoons.

You can be, they said, what we need you to be.

You are a vessel filled with the ashes of our despair.

All hopes, wants, dreams spurned, burned.

Got it! That soft huggable doll. She became Baby Jesus in a school play.

Gotcha! grinned child.

Grimm child.

Robo parents were aghast. Robo teacher wagged her finger in dismay. Baby Doll was rejected, ejected, from the birth scene/unseen.

The wise men said: eat it, swallow it, crush it, hide it, smash it. But don't, ever, face it, name it, or picture it.

Now I picture every it, every moment, every day, every chance I get.

The wise ones said: go to the cemetery, change your name, so that cancer cannot find you.

Until it does.

Wash your hands, so that death will not touch you.

Until it does.

Max Ehrmann said:

"You are a child of the universe, No less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should."(1)

We save fragments of ourselves so that those yet-to-be will understand who we were. Will humans one day be labeled "use unknown"? Discontinued relics, toxic to the touch, shameful to the eye?

Whose eye? Where is the who that sees me, that sees you?

Perhaps, to the universe, there is no you, no giraffe, no bliss, no tears.

What happens when no one, no thing, no force, sees us …no more?

Her name was Sarah Lubin. No one speaks of her. She is not mentioned in any scripture. But without her I would not be.

Sarah Lubin obeyed the shaggy grey-beards to bear more, and then more, offspring, until her body could bear no more.

Why does history not celebrate her? Shout her name to the rooftops? Even see her?

Sometimes, when we see nothing, much is there to be seen. Did you know that invisible particles pass through your body by the trillions, second by mysterious second, leaving no trace?

What I see Is that we send life-crushing missiles as often as we lend a helping hand.

Wrapped in our tinseled hubris, we drop nuclear weapons on those we would not see.

We drop drones, without pilots, so that we need not enumerate the children we incinerate.

Does the universe shed tears at what we do? I don't see any. Do you?

Face it. In the soft sculpture of our souls, we hide from what we have done, from what we might have done.

The soul is your lion, your gorilla, your bear. Take it by the hand, if you dare. Show it that you care.

Because, you know, I care.

c. Corinne Whitaker 2021

Notes: Adapted from the book "The Lion, The Gorilla, and the Bear", Corinne Whitaker, 2015.

(1) Max Ehrmann, "Desiderata", 1952