For today, I present you with a poem about juxtaposition by Fleur Adcock from her collection Poems 1960-2000.
It's the sort of thought that I've been preoccupied with lately: how can kindness and cruelty dwell so closely in the same spaces in our hearts? What do we conceal of our baser natures to prove our goodness? What does our "goodness" cost us? How does one accept the ruder truths of self?
I turn these age-old questions over and over in my mind like a well-worn stone.
A snail is climbing up the window-sill
into your room, after a night of rain.
You call me in to see, and I explain
that it would be unkind to leave it there:
It might crawl to the floor; we must take care
that no one squashes it. You understand,
and carry it outside, with careful had,
to eat a daffodil.
I see, then, that a kind of faith prevails:
your gentleness is moulded still by words
from me, who have trapped mice and shot wild birds,
from me, who drowned your kittens, who betrayed
four closest relatives, and who purveyed
the harshest kind of truth to many another.
But that is how things are: I am your mother,
and we are kind to snails.
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