7/3

As one would command a child or dog,
repeating the same orders in a raised voice,
Sit, be still, hush,
thrusting a pointed finger at the floor,
don't we reprimand ourselves?

As one would never dare to chastise it,
screaming obscenities or to hit it,
really hit it with an outstretched palm,
or shove its face before a mirror
to stare with wide eyes
don't we so punish ourselves?

As one would never hope to speak
a deception, an unflinching lie
with no trace of good intentions,
not to smooth over an injury
but to add another,
don't we so deceive ourselves
and never know we have?

No animal could, in this way,
betray itself, yet there
we stoop, beneath them,
even forcing it upon ourselves
and then one day we wish
to know the truth, but who
if not ourselves, can offer it?

And so our first instinctive sense
of righteousness, that which
we show ourselves, that with which
we violate ourselves as one
would never, with a loved one, harm,
never, with a dear one, strike, not strike,

is as if with an enemy, implacable;
it is as with an animal, intractable,
as one would with a self which instinctively resists:
this amputating, this assaulting, this self-slashing.
And one would lie, as one so faithlessly would lie.