Song of the South: Infinity

My wife, Katharine, wrote the following poem about the experience of many youth she supports in her work with bullied and marginalized youth.  I find her words particularly poignant, in light of the time I worked as a chaplain at a shelter for women & children who had been abused.

I hope this “song of the south” inspires & challenges you as it does me.

And ain’t whistling Dixie,

Your progressive redneck preacher,

Micah

kat and mich

INFINITY

This one goes out to all my kids, my teens, my peers

All of you who’ve found yourselves bruised, abused, abuse 1misused, unable to choose

The life you deserve to live; all the while you give, forgive, just try to live

Any way that will make the pain stop, let you put down the razor so the blood won’t drop

Scarlet red, as you lay in your bed, thoughts swirling in your head, can’t help wishing you were dead

You deserve a life you can get through without a knife, don’t need to have paid for another blade

You feel like a zero, not a hero, remembering when he came into your bedroom as you slept

Ever so quietly crept, slipping a hand over your mouth. Don’t wake daddy? Oh no, he’s awake

It’s mommy’s heart that would ache if she knew your gripping pain, your worry you’ll be beat

Or would she just retreat, her eyes vacant, her mind in a faraway place where she can’t see, can’t hear

The tears you cry, the screams you try to muffle as you realize the ones who should protect you

Are the ones who make you run; run far, far away, but where? To school?

That’s not really a place you’re cool. The teachers say they’re tryin’ but the punches keep flyin’

Wicked tricks they keep denyin’, while the nasty names are multiplyin’,

falling-into-a-black-holeDays so brutal even the sky is cryin’ as you sit on the bus, enduring kicks and thinkin’ bout dyin’

At home you’re silent, lest things get violent. Don’t take much thinkin’ to know he’s been drinkin’

A C on your math test? They say you’re not doing your best, and they won’t settle for any less

You go outside to bring them the mail, walk back inside and step on the scale, and cringe

Haven’t eaten a full meal a week, and you know tonight’s the night to binge

If the number on your test was the number on that dial, you’d be off the hook a while

Until they started in again on how much you really need to be thin. You guess that your worth

Wasn’t determined at birth, but by letters and numbers or whatever the world chooses today

In bed again you lay, the skies are gray, the beginning of a new day

Up all night cramming, jamming the information in your brain

Pushing yourself through the pain of another workout, skipping meals, counting calories, weak

This is what it takes, you realize. You need to be at your peak to please the world, the 3’s, 4’s, 5’s

The 8’s, 9’s, 10’s. Honor roll, down the cat walk they stroll, the same ones who called you troll

Through years of self hate, taking the bait only to be spat on by those who discriminate

And you believe you’re just a zero, never could dream of being a hero, never of winning the prize

Always wearing the disguise of a happy go lucky perfect 10. That disguise fails again and again

Seems the only ones who can’t crack the code are the ones who set you down this road

That leads to nowhere, not like anyone should care, right? After all, isn’t it just your fight?

They say “it gets better” but that’s only somewhat true, for it to get better, it has to start with you

Realizing they’re wrong, calling out the lies and deceit, refusing to believe the words they repeat

You’re not the only one. There’s that girl who is always on the run

And the boy who decided life was done, now thrown in jail since he thought he’d use a gun

To take down, destroy those he felt determined his value, his worth

But it really is true you’ve all had it from birth

You’re all beautiful, smart, loved without condition, but when all the negative becomes repetition

You forget, your mind is set, you believe the words of those who’ve never really met

The amazing, talented person that you are, beneath the scars

They aren’t who you are.

Today it’s ok to hide under a rock, to block out the world, to wish it away

There’s one over here I’ve used for many a year, it’s big enough for all of you to stay

But only for tonight, because tomorrow we step out together into the light

And every last person who’s been made to feel like a zero will see

The hero they were truly meant to be

As they go from zero to infinity

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