Up against your strangeness
fear I feel, fear rising
as your rearing horse holds
high against the dark teal west.
Your mounted silhouette
in all its details indeterminate,
what mass, what shadow, and of it
I know nothing. What dust
you bear from where I cannot say,
or tell where you must go from here.
In the strained lag between
slowing second-hand hammerings
time is mine for flight or fight,
to feign a truce, or face
to face you, face or flee to
freeze you once forever as a glance.
Or perchance to stay, to stand
straight-backed, unflinching as a rod,
my strange still inchoate form
a pivot for your turn. And in
the passing by, a split-second eye to eye,
a noble imperceptible nod.
How should it be, these encounters with others that are so different from us? With those who sharply disagree with us, who see the world in an entirely different way? Should we each lay down our convictions of what is true at the altar of tepid tolerance? Should we fight in order to convince and convert? Should we avoid the other to keep the illusion of peace? Or, how about this? With each one confident in settled convictions, each one humble, we engage -- not to conquer but to listen, to learn, to seize opportunity to show respect, to dignify the other's right to think and choose and be. To be different and still together, unafraid, unshaken.