• Jørn Earl Otte

"Do not apologize" -- April 14, NPM

Do not apologize

Perhaps one afternoon you will be walking

in your own backyard, the dandelions freshly

blooming, the yellow irises and purple lilies below in your flowerbed,

the white and blue hydrangea off to the side of the porch,

all signaling a new life, as bumblebees

animate the sky.

In this innocence

you will not notice the wall they are building

around your home, around the front yard’s

vegetable garden, with its crispy heads of iceberg lettuce,

tall green feather dusters leading down

to the orange crunch of the carrots.

You will not notice the wall because

their skulking snake minds are building it with silent

attitudes and your own misappropriated guilt.

Suddenly, it will be there on this afternoon

as though it sprang forth from the grass, as though your neglect

in mowing to community standards provided it the fertilizer

to emerge from the weeds.

They will give you complex instructions, now that you recognize the wall,

on how to maintain your membership

in the life they feel they have been kind enough to distribute

to you, in paper form, in documentation, in noise

from radio and television and computer screen

and cellphone tower and the antennae

you didn’t know they planted on your shadow.

You have done nothing wrong,

but in this moment, with the spotlight from the guard tower

positioned on your face, the blinding light

blocking the faces of the accusers,

you will feel guilty.

You will feel sinful.

You will feel the need to apologize.

I implore you – Don’t.

They will not forgive you for your imaginary

transgressions even if you did cave-in and apologize

for the greens and blues and reds and multi-colored

splatters with which you proudly chose to color your life,

your spirit, your progeny.

So don’t.

Don’t say you are sorry

for breathing life into a dying world.

Don’t apologize for staring directly into the bullshit

they have been peddling since you were born

and being wise enough to say, “No thanks.”

You are the lilies. You are the delicate blue petals

of the hydrangea.

You are the light, shining back into the guard tower

exposing their hypocrisy and hatred and bigotry.

Do not feel guilty. Do not be afraid.

Smile, and tell them,

“This wall is not mine. It is your wall. It is your prison.

It is the way you have kept yourselves from knowing

that the coyote on the hilltop

who visits the undergrowth in my backyard,

is more neighbor to me than the police

or tax collector

or CEO

or parish priest.

This wall is your wall, and you are welcome to it.”

As you turn your back to them, giving

them no more credence, I promise you,

as sure as the sun will rise over the mountaintops

that they have raped,

they will leave you alone.

You and your flowerbed are the antidote.

As they slither away, your smile

will radiate with so much force that the indestructible wall

will melt, will seep into the ground and be ash.

I promise you, the bumblebee will alight on the apple

tree at the corner of your house. The robins will mate

in the shade of the oak tree’s highest branch.

The coyote will come back again, and the small,

industrious seed of hope,

planted when you were born,

will not die.

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