Empathy

My love, I’m grateful tonight
Our listing bed isn’t a raft
Precariously adrift
As we dodge the coast-guard light,

And clasp hold of a girl and a boy.
I’m glad that we didn’t wake
Our kids in the thin hours, to take
Not a thing, not a favorite toy,

And we didn’t hand over our cash
To one of the smuggling rackets,
That we didn’t buy cheap lifejackets
No better than bright orange trash

And less buoyant.  I’m glad that the dark
Above us, is not deeply twinned
Beneath us, and moiled with wind,
And we don’t scan the sky for a mark,

Any mark, that demarcates a shore
As the dinghy starts taking on water.
I’m glad that our six-year old daughter,
Who can’t swim, is a foot off the floor

In the bottom bunk, and our son
With his broken arm’s high and dry,
That the ceiling is not seeping sky,
With our journey but hardly begun.

Empathy isn’t generous,
It’s selfish.  It’s not being nice
To say I would pay any price
Not to be those who’d die to be us.

A. E. Stallings

A. E. Stallings

A. E. Stallings studied classics in Athens, Georgia, and has lived in Athens, Greece since 1999. A 2011 MacArthur Fellow, her most recent collection is Olives.  Her new translation of Hesiod's Works and Days is forthcoming.
A. E. Stallings

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Author: A. E. Stallings

A. E. Stallings studied classics in Athens, Georgia, and has lived in Athens, Greece since 1999. A 2011 MacArthur Fellow, her most recent collection is Olives.  Her new translation of Hesiod's Works and Days is forthcoming.