Poetry: “Charity”

She is like a squat old machine,
Off-kilter but still chugging along
The uphill stretch of sidewalk
On Harrison Street, handbag slung
Crosswise and, I’m guessing, heavy.
And oh, the set of her face, her brow’s
Profound tracks, her mouth cinched,
Lips pressed flat. Watching her
Bend forward to tussle with gravity,
Watching the berth she allows each
Foot (as if one is not on civil
Terms with the other), watching
Her shoulders braced as if lashed
By step after step after step, and
Her eyes’ determination not to
Shift, or blink, or rise, I think:
I am you, one day out of five,
Tired, empty, hating what I carry
But afraid to lay it down, stingy,
Angry, doing violence to others
By the sheer freight of my gloom,
Halfway home, wanting to stop, to quit
But keeping going mostly out of spite.
By – Tracy K. Smith –  the 22nd Poet Laureate of the United States
Banner photo by Aris Sfakianakis on unsplash.com https://unsplash.com/@katergaris
Aloha, Renée

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About reneeriley

Our blog was begun as a way to share our experiences in China. From August 2010 to July 2011, my husband, Barry Kristel, and I were at our University of Hawaii Maui College sister school, Zhejiang Agriculture and Forestry University in Lin'an, China, a city considered rural because it has only 500,000 people! We had a wonderful time. Then in February 2012, we returned to teach this time at our other sister school, Shanghai Normal University, in a city of over 21 million people. We've made many discoveries. Did you know that now Chinese girls, at least the ones who go to university, for the most part feel they are luckier than the Chinese boys? Did you know that Shanghai saved over 20,000 European Jews during WWII? Do you know how Chinese university students would deal with problems that come up in Dear Abby letters? What's it like to be on the Great Wall of China? Do you know how many Chinese girls had their feet bound and why? And we have recipes from many of the places we've visited. Among others, you can find instructions on how to fry cicadas from one of my ZAFU students and how to make chocolate-Kahlua waffles from my brother Mike in Gainesville. You can also look back to our earliest entry to see what we experienced in Oaxaca, Mexico, in 2006 during the mainly peaceful six months of protest until the Mexican government sent in the troops. Between our stays in China, Barry and I have been on the Mainland U.S. visiting family, friends and Servas hosts as we traveled home to Maui. We share those experiences too. Welcome to our blog! Aloha and Zài Jiàn, Renée and Barry

5 responses to “Poetry: “Charity””

  1. patricia rouse says :

    Hi Renee, What is it about this poem that speaks to you today?

    Sent from my iPad


  2. Rosita says :

    Such a deep, stingy poem, yet full of determination. Love this!! And that woman’s smile is surely contagious 😊 when will u make a Wattpad acc, so u can write ur own stories and perhaps even a book on it?

    Hope urs are fine,

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