ANOTHER MAN'S TAKING
When another man takes from us
all that's been who we've become
and casts it in the dirt
As judgment that it was not real,
was never real at all,
nothing but a shielding sham,
And we stand there, sunburnt in our chains,
hearing low and sneering laughs,
sureness in his rightness of our truth,
It may be then, and only then,
we're forced to find our path
to what lies merged into our heart,
And if the way that we have gone
was more than what the other thinks,
maybe more than even we have known.
For if the outward symbol of our lives,
once flung and resting at our feet,
truly is the sum total of our soul...
Perhaps, the other man is right,
and we have, all the long and weary years,
been nothing more than foolish in our ways.
If forced, to practice once again
things we hated that marked us so,
and find them lying, quiet, in our cave...
Does even that define the man we really are?
The man we gave ourselves to be,
He, who strove to turn his back,
Surrounded, now, by only opposites,
reversals of all we've tried to be...
Does removal of the outward sign
Mean all our inwardness was also false
and lying, with the other, curled at our booted feet,
no more a thing of value in the least?
Could that be the sum of all our hard-won years,
lost so easily as other folk believe,
worthless, wasted, counting not at all?
But it is only we who know
if in our deepest selves there lies
a truth beyond the other's ken;
If we, without a symbol left to hold,
know...really know...where our soul has been,
then all that we've become cannot be lost
By the taking of another man;
Cannot be beaten from our heart
by fists or boots or...failures,
Because the very sum of it
adds up to more than these
and, in the end of everything,
We stand with our dusty scars,
knowing we are more than any sum
of collars downward cast, or even cast-down stars.
By Jo Anzalone March 26, 2007
With much thanks to Sharon, who put the idea of the
"other man" into my brain.