The Audience of souls

By Naomi McPeters


The poem is not born in the moment it is written. It is born of dust, of memories coming together because of the smell of the wind. Perhaps it is truth. Perhaps it isn't. It tells me what I need to know as I create it. 

Wrestling with the angel,
I cannot see the stairway to Heaven.
Living with a deep sense of hatred and torment
Of why, why, I couldn't save them,
Didn't save them,
That somehow my powers would have been enough
To stop a flood
Of history that is incomprehensible.

The more I live I realize
Each of our presents are tied up in our past,
A deep interwoven blanket of souls
Nodding to each other on street corners
And dying beside one another in gutters.

Our history, dependent on an audience, said Stein.
An audience of silent witnesses,
Absorbing each drop of blood,
Releasing them year after year
On the generations to come;
And no one, it seems, is the villain.

As children we are perceived to be innocent,
When really we are just trapped in ourselves,
And in worlds of inexpressible things.
I thought
My hero lived within me.

My hero would have taken the arm of her grandmother,
Would have stood firm before the wrath of her mother,
Would have taken the blows for her brother,
Would have taken revenge on her sister--
But instead, instead, my hero loved her.

I thought
If life would not claim me, then death would;
If forgiving would not free me, then hate would;
If my mother would not love me, then none would;
If God was not saving me, I would.

I stared at the water today, hating its anger, 
Until I realized that even the ocean breaks
But only because it has reached the shore.

I, too, have died in the gutter,
Between souls with no rest or form,
A current of unending lives pouring forth,
Finding no strands on which to hold,
No hero to guide them home.

I thought
The act of being would be beautiful
Not picking up pieces of a broken mirror but rather
Finding it whole and fully reflective
Of the Truth of the matter.
Yet the trouble is, each of us thinks that we have it.

Truth is, my hero died in the gutter,
With an audience of silent souls
Witnessing the release of history,
To ensure the flood would never come again,
That the droplets of blood staining the sidewalks and street corners,
Leading to nowhere,
Would never find a home in this present soul,
Turning their mind’s sight from the recollection of suffering,
So it could never again be reborn.

History depends on an audience,
And so my eyes can only see the future. 
Yet who am I without my memories?
I don't even recognize me.
Can I fear that which does not yet exist?
There is the touch of reality upon my dreams.

I left my hero in the gutter,
Where glistening truth dissembles itself in history,
Where death finds itself staring at the beauty of being,
Where I found myself in the arms of my Maker,
On the stairway to Heaven.