Friday, February 17, 2012

4 Angles on Morality

I'm constantly wanting to write about morality, about how we need it to be a body of facts that we draw on but we doubt that it can be.
I want to write how it looks to me that our emotions more than our reason underpin our morality. Some days that makes the precious edifice of right and wrong seem frighteningly fragile. Somedays I feel that's more robust and resilient than any other way it could be.
I never quite know what angle to approach this from. So I wrote this poem.... 

4 Angles on Morality. 
We are going on a drive. When we come to a bridge you notice a gap in the middle. “Stop,” you scream, but I reassure you, “It’ll be fine.”
We keep driving. Your knuckles whiten. Your face drains of colour.  We pass over the gap as if it were solid road and I laugh, “See.”
You punch my arm and I am genuinely surprised to find that you are not smiling. You make me promise you that we will never drive that path again.
You hold her in your talons to your breast. Your wings beat as fast as hummingbirds though they are as wide as an eagle’s.
Then you are pierced and you can’t figure out how to bring pressure to the wind anymore. It’s impossible but you’re not going to make it.
It still feels impossible the following year and the next.
You see a body in a bed. It is your own and I stand over you but we are so much older. A minute passes and beneath my occasional sob it’s my breathing you notice first and your lack of breathing next.
When you see the pillow in my hand you remember struggling to find air against it. You can’t remember if you asked me to...what. You can’t seem to care about what you’re seeing.
You are made of mesh. Four hands hold your corners and fling you out across the sea. You drift down, salt water moving through you. “This is what slicing something feels like” you think, recalling idly observing your hands and a knife in another life.
You hear the throaty chuckles of success from above you as you bear down on living things. You feel the panic of the fish you trap. When one escapes it takes your guilt with it.
You celebrate the fish’s freedom which feels traitorous, which feels wonderfully wicked, which feels contrived. You keep sinking until the sun vanishes.

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