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  • Writer's pictureShana Ritter

A new poem

I used to trust in the rule of law

Staying on your side of the two lane road

when a car is coming at you assuring

you both the room to pass without a scratch.

The common observances that keep us safe

let us live side by side even if the sides

we take are different, so vastly different

we imagine we would never share a pot of tea

on an afternoon leaning over a table, but I bet we have.

Perhaps this has nothing to do with laws

and only something to do with kindnesses.

Perhaps it is not the rule of law disintegrating

but the notion of kindness, the belief

in its validity, even though each of us, and I will bet

really everyone of us, has been saved by a kindness.

Somewhere in the bone of your left forearm

under the skin of you lower leg,

at the arch of your right eyebrow

you have pinned the memory of a kindness

and it has held that has held you together.

The time someone saw you looking sad

and mentioned the beauty of your eyes

or offered you their place in line

or turned to thank you for holding the door

or held the door for you, when your hands were full.

And isn’t that all of us, stumbling around

with our hands full, holding more than we can

hoping, maybe praying if that’s the way

you talk to hope, that someone will

open the door, let you pass through

unscathed, perhaps smile for a moment

take a chance and meet your gaze.


On waking into a cold clear morning winter turning toward spring, the birdsong is heightened even as frost glistens the bare branches. I live in a peaceful setting, but that belies the discordance of the rule of law disassembling daily. I always wondered how it happened. This morning what can I do but write, for me the first step in meaningful action. I rarely share brand new poems,. but somehow with this just written poem I decided to...

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