the ark of mercy


for Gretchen

(written for actress Gretchen Wyler to celebrate the

12th Anniversary of the Ark Trust, a California based

Animal Rights organization.)

In the sacredness of life,

meaning embraces the language of deeds.

But you speak a jargon of cruelty and death

and your language is

rabbit with acid-blinded eyes,

bull tormented for trivial manhood,

wolf ski-dooed into helplessness,

remnants of cow or cow's child, a calf

pieces of chicken, and pig, and fish,

and a memory: the genocide of buffalo.

If your madness must be

the unreachable mystery it is,

your meaning remains that life itself

must suffer to die in the hands of your will

for science, for food, for pleasure.

We live. We do not govern the wisdom we learn.

We know everything of nothing

and too little the divinity of compassion.

We kill, but ask no reason.

So speak no more the reasons of logic,

but of truth to the essence of fire,

or time is ending and your goddess,

the earth, is bleeding fatal wounds.

Know that I despise beyond words what you do,

and fear I could be demented like you,

and know we shall die into undiluted silence,

no matter my questions and your unmoveable answer.

I love, with all my spirit and flesh,

the animals you burn alive. My love is made

of wonder and mercy, but you are not merciful.

I cannot speak a greater love that forgives you.

And so to dream:

You undo the deeds of your barbarous heart

You draw the blood of all who live into your blood,

and, kin with every animal, you sail the Ark of mercy,

and speak a meaning that knows more than silence,

the flesh of your heart.

James Strecker, 1998

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