“How dark and hurt and deep the world.” 
        —Sebastian Barry, The Whereabouts of Eneas McNulty

But how to help, to say nothing of being reconciled 
to the fact of our present paralysis, the heroic desire for 
purposeful life now strung on the clothesline, parked 
in the garage, or misplaced, lost on that departing train.

The old empathies, bookmarks in our expansive 
dreams, fired the paths of our youth—the heady 
drive through the Alps, the spirited campfire disputes, 
our promise of gracious service, echoing the strains

of the Gospel. Now, bewildered, we’ve lost the pace, 
forgotten the word. Then we campaigned, knocking 
bravely on strange doors of distant neighbors, calling 
all to step up, step out, stand. Our blood ran hot.

Tonight we sit under a mute but generous moon, 
not understanding a thing. How can this be, we say 
to each other, our tongues thick from too much wine. 
How could we ever have imagined this, the likely end 
of our struggle and our children’s children impenetrable, 
complacent, turning their eyes away?