Tuesday, March 24, 2020


I think it’s the silent e
in the word humane
that gets under the skin
of my eyelid the most.

Sometime during the 17th century
we decided that human
was different from humane.

You can be “of or related to
the family of human beings,”
or you can be “compassionate,
civil, gentle, inflicting
the minimum of pain.”

Shake any hand now
and receive a dollop
of hand sanitizer
and a lecture
from a total stranger.

Get within six feet of me
and you can hear the muscles
in my neck and shoulders stiffen.

Right now, being human is an error.
There’s a bad bit of code
in the loop, a glitch.

Humane. We don’t know
what that is, other than
the silent e as a wall,
a border that helps us
console ourselves.

It’s a foil blanket
covering the words
that always follow:

Say it. Humane.
Feel how the silent e contorts
your face into a terrible grin
with the elongated a.

Say human and you feel
the tip of your tongue
touch the roof of your mouth
and your lips close
to a place of being

No comments: