The Righteously Aggrieved

One tries to treat [human beings] as the miracles they are, while trying to protect oneself against the disasters they’ve become.
— James Baldwin, No Name in the Street, 1972

The righteously aggrieved have a long memory.
They seldom linger on slights or slander, or swivel
their necks to sneer back at those who sneer at them;
neither forgive without cause, nor love without fury, nor
confuse symbols with meaning or meaning with action.

When statues topple, they do little heaving.
You will not see them celebrate long their fall
or mount the wreckage on a wall.
(Who are you to ask that they applaud
your moment of awakening? It is not
for your benefit that they have for millennia
grown beautiful, like the moss.)

When the statuary of the world is rebuilt
they will finger every brick, place every stone,
thrust hip and heart and mind into the soil;
and eons hence, from their flesh and brain matter
humanity will still grow beautiful,
like the moss that forever spreads
across ruins, and tombs, and dreams.

Andy Posner grew up in Los Angeles and earned an MA in Environmental Studies at Brown. While there, he founded Capital Good Fund, a nonprofit that provides financial services to low-income families. He has had his poetry published in several journals, including Burningword Literary Journal (which nominated his poem 'The Machinery of the State' for the Pushcart Poetry Prize), Noble/Gas Quarterly, and The Esthetic Apostle. He can be reached at Read other articles by Andy.