When I was small I lived in the land of giants. People and building loomed large, towering over me in a world that pulsed with power and strength. In my first eight years when the year changed, I sat on my grandparents’ porch, coated and mittened, to watch the New Year’s parade march down the broad street. The porch stretched half a block in length surrounded by concrete walls I first had to tiptoe over to see the marchers.
When my years grew large, my grandparents’ home grew small, their porch unable to hold more than a few chairs, a table, a bench, and two or three small children.
I knew a man once who slept in my mother’s bed, a man not my father but who owned her when he changed her name. He walked in fierceness, his words the mace he swung to shame and mock and ridicule. He slew me more than once. Though I had more than a decade to stand on, he towered over me, an insurmountable wall that kept me in a place of fear. I hated him.
A full generation passed before I saw him again. This past week we met. The years have left him frail, thin, and sick. His legs hesitate when he tries to walk, and his ears fail to listen to the soft voices around him. Old angers still smolder in his words, but the flame no longer leaps out to scorch and singe.
All of us come to rubble eventually. The mortar weakens and our walls collapse. We lay down our weapons and surrender to the years.
We talked, the two of us, and told our stories. I searched for my old hatred and found it gone, lost on some path I took decades and decades ago.
I left that man, surprised at my great peace and my great guilt. I am not innocent. I have wrecked havoc, too, shook the ground with anger, pierced hearts with sharp-edged words, and held others hostage behind walls I built myself.
I have grown small again and hope to stay that way until I leave. I have had my share of hurts, but I have also hurt others and must make amends, for none of us escape this world unscathed or guiltless.
21 thoughts on “The land of giants”
Old hatreds are best found gone.
Sometimes I have a convoluted way of speaking and writing. I’ve been found dumb more than once.
Your imagery suits this so well that I find myself cringing inside from echoes of my own pain and guilt.
Thank you for your comment, Ruth.
I love your stories, yearstricken… and your voice brings me peace, even when there’s a storm raging outside. I’ve met some old dragons, after they’d lost their fire… when my hands were strong, and my eyes could see from numerous perspectives… and it was like you said. But then, there are also scars that still sigh… and memories of those that didn’t survive, that embitter me to this day. Forgive me if it’s my naiveté, but it seems to me I’ve met some guiltless souls who came and left this world without leaving seared and torn body parts in their wake.
Time often does give us perspective, but I know it’s true that certain hurts can stay with us always.
Hate and guilt are the heaviest of burdens
to be borne by the heart,
and will scar the soul forevermore,
lest given their depart.
Thought provoking post YS, Thank you. The release you must have felt at your parting should have made you feel a freer and wiser person, I would think.
I would like to grow wiser; instead, I grow wizened.
But you are still a “whizzer” in my book..
It is apathy, not hatred which is the opposite of love. Once you get there, you cannot be hurt.
I think you’re right – apathy and love cannot exist together. I think I would rather be hurt though than become apathetic.
Very wise words …
Hanging on to hate doesn’t solve anything. It just keeps you from moving forward.
Hatred cannot sometimes be hard to let go of. Once you’re free, you wonder why you didn’t let go sooner.
Your words stir me. Thanks for continuing to share your poetry.
Thanks, Myra. And thank you for reading.
The photos of the tree with the different perspectives are great. We all see things from our own place. It’s a strong person who is able to shift into another’s place to see it in a new way.
It’s all about perspective, isn’t it?