“Compassion for the Minotaur” by Terry Blackhawk

Terry Blackhawk


We need it
for the same reason
we say we grieve—for ourselves,
not for those who’ve gone.
For nights when touch isn’t enough
and a partner’s peaceful breath
will not lure us into sleep
but we must stare out at the room
unable to name the dark
while all we’ve tried to hide
roars up from the basement
and follows us when we step outside
ourselves, so that we hear
in the traffic’s whine
or the homeless man’s rage
that echoes through the tunnels of the MTA
the same despairing bleat
that must have burst from the snout
of the helpless baby
when he saw his mother’s
horrified gaze and understood
that it fell on no gleaming hide
or ears sweet to scratch
but a creature angular and strange
whom she could not possibly cradle,
or croon to, or take as her own.

from Rattle #17, Summer 2002

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