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Standing with Alyosha

"Alyosha stood at the crossroads under the streetlamp."
Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov


It's a place of darkness where
a human will might do its best work,
where kindness becomes flesh
or deflates like a blow-up Santa
come New Year's. It might be
the snug, well-insulated house,
green lawn groomed, minivan shining
bright in the garage, abuse lurking
in some airless bedroom corner. Or
it might be the stinking deathbed,
the anguished, desperate jail cell,
where Alyosha blesses this
brother's innocence or that
one's best intentions, absorbing
the worst the world wills him. Still