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The Passing of Rachel Corrie
by Edward Mast
I. her heart
Did she love him enough?
In that moment, was he the center of her universe?
Were the lights and fibers of all her being sufficiently bent to enclose him
and lift him out of himself and the path he thought he was on?
Did she see herself with his eyes?
She set her foot on the metal tread and climbed up to talk. Was she
coming to stop him or to help him?
Was she surprised when she saw his face? Or did she see
the face of a childhood friend, or a family member,
or the face of a colleague in struggle?
Did she see his face?
Did she feel the tear inside him? Did she think she would
heal him in time?
Was her voice on the bullhorn a battering ram
or the voice of rescue in darkness?
Did she hold out the hand of herself to him?
Did she bring him a gift, open, unwrapped, ready to take?
Did she travel across the world to be there
with him, with him, with him?
Her heart was full with those she stood to protect. Was there room
in her heart for him? Was the gateway wide for him to
walk through anytime, unexpected but welcome home?
Was she his refuge? Was she his oasis?
Was he the one given into her care?
Does she care for him still?
When the blade did not stop, when he did not accept her gift,
did she start to hate him?
Did she start to forget him and think about only herself?
Or did she, under the crushing earth, find still some muscle of love
for him, some eye in her heart still fixed on him,
broken with sorrow for him and his failure, but still
alive to his life?
Did she think she failed?
She did not retreat. Did she think he would?
Or did she simply refuse to give up on him, on them, on him?
Did she simply refuse?
Was she chosen, or did she choose?
II. his heart
What part of him gave the order?
A voice in his ear? A voice in his brain?
Or some lack of voice altogether?
Did he close his eyes?
Did his mouth get dry?
Did his stomach contract or turn over?
When she pulled herself up to the cab, did he turn his head?
Did he look at her face?
Was her voice drowned out by the treads and the blade?
Was her voice drowned out by other voices from days before
and years before?
Did his jaw clench?
Did he find himself not breathing?
Did time slow down or stop?
Or was he relieved when he backed away
and the bullhorn was silent at last?
Was he happy, or surprised, or unhappy the dialogue had ended?
Did he think he had won?
Had he been afraid? Was he now?
Was it hard to figure out what to do next?
Was it hard to think for a minute or two?
When he saw her, what did he see?
A creature infected, or just the infection itself?
A weapon in someone's hands?
Did he shake his head for a poor silly kid
or did he feel safer by just that much?
Did he pray for her? Did he pray for himself?
Did he ask forgiveness from God somewhere?
Was he sad in his heart for a world in which he was
forced to do such things?
Did he pray for peace and hope in his heart that no more bodies
would stand in the way?
Did he retch, did he vomit, did he sob, did he shout?
Or did he add one more notch to a mental rod of justice?
Did he turn to steel? Was he only a tool in the hand of truth?
Did he choose, or was he chosen?
Does he see her face in the future?
Will he touch her whenever he touches his daughter?
His lover, his sister, his mother, his wife?
Did her spirit rise out of her broken body and enter his?
Does her vanquished spirit glitter behind his eyes
and make him hungry to vanquish more?
Is he dancing a hunter's victory dance?
Does she give him rage? Does she give him sorrow?
Does she make him hate the dark?
Does she haunt him, or is she his angel?
Does her scolding loving face urge him to change?
Or does she forgive him without scolding?
Does she feed and care for his loving heart?
Or does he refuse to hear?
Has her blood entered his heart like a balm
to heal the gashes of fear?
Is her body alive in his heart like a bell,
to bring him awake, to bring him awake?
Or is her blood just a layer of crust
on a heart that is crusted shut already?
Is the instrument home retooling right now?
Or back at work, oiled and grinding?
He did not retreat. Did he think she would?
Or did something shut, did something close
and close behind it something that did not
know, or care, or know, or care?
Does that give him strength?
And does there still, behind that shut of steel,
exist at least some small pavilion, some space,
some hidden treasure that can be found,
that can be reached, that can be opened
to spread its jewels in the light?
III. my heart
When she passed out of her single body, did she become
as large as the world?
Is the earth spinning faster now, or are we just
walking differently on it?
Have the ten thousand miles from here to that doctor's house
disappeared? Or do we just travel there more often now
because something of her is there for all time?
Is she part of us now? Is something of us there for all time too?
Is that doctor's house our home now?
Is her voice inside me a scream for anger, for outrage, even revenge?
Or is it a plea for calm and refusal?
Or is her voice a silent witness
calling those who can hear to hard work
of meeting a brutal and hate-shaken world
with the boundless full attention of the heart?
Did she bring me something of him as well?
His fear, his blocked and battered gateways?
He's my companion too.
The planet lurches, continents shift and collide.
On what new ground may I meet him?