The First
Noble Truth
The First Noble Truth invites us, simply, not to ignore that life is suffering,
as I have managed to do for 69 years, believing that misery dwells
in Kosovo, Rwanda, Somalia, South Bronx, South Central,
where I can dismiss it as horrible and far from me,
closing my eyes, as I do at the movies when scary music rises ---
though my friend Mary Anne had one nephew murdered, another one killed in a car crash, her husband demented by Parkinson's,
though my friend Janet, her esophagus thickening, has difficulty swallowing all but watery foods, one brother with AIDS, another drowned in front of her eyes,
though my friend Melinda has lost her long red hair to infection, her adrenals, thyroid compromised, a mad brother who killed himself by drinking cleaning fluid ---
I feel like Siddhartha, wandering unblinded outside the gates of privilege ---
Ella, whose son, alone in London, was found hanging from a hook in the doorway,
Trish, who lived for thirty years with a man who punched her, wrecked her knees, made her have sex with strangers,
Loretta, who lost a daughter, a husband, a breast ---
I feel like the mother of a dead son to whom Buddha said: If you bring me a mustard seed from a household where no loss has been, I will restore him ---
Jeremy, whose mother and father were drunks, who's had seven surgeries in seven years,
Claire, whose crazed son shot a man in the face.
I'm fed up with this noble truth.
It nauseates me and I'm nowhere near running out of friends,
running out of incest, epilepsy, rape, depression, longing.
And me? What about me?
The death of my sister. Old age. Will my husband die before me?
What is my point? That I did not see it, the suffering.
How can that be? What world was I living in?
Who did I think I was?

--- From Resistance
Sondra Zeidenstein
©2003, Chicory Blue Press
795 East St. N.
Goshen CT 06756
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