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Monday, April 23, 2012

This Unthinkable Sorrow

This Unthinkable Sorrow

Corn stalks fly at half mast
in the field beside the church
against a dirty backdrop of brown trees.
A tractor and a combine salute the teen
who lies inside the church.
Volunteers wave cars into the lot
behind a Future Farmer banner:
Family, Farming and Faith.

Inside, the line shuffles from the back,
an hour’s wait to the bereaved,
but no one minds.
This unthinkable sorrow is
the twine that binds our souls.
We still love him where he lies,
his farmer’s cap upon his bruised head.
A few words, reminders of the
humor, joy, honor, and love
of his too-short life.

Then outside, sunlight hurts
our swollen eyes. We mill about
and wander to our cars,
form a queue for miles.
Family accepts the graveside seats,
now on holy ground, where they will say
When words of comfort are scattered,
we leave them in their grief.

Tables heaped with home-made food
greet the mourners in the church.
At the family table sits the woman
who remembers their kindness
when her teenage daughter died.
Now her gift to them is silence
that comes from knowing
the ineptitude of words.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

One Small Voice

I have discovered that it is possible to erase a blog post just by failing to close a window on a different computer. Apparently my post from Monday was deleted when I logged into my PC and Blogger saved the almost empty post I had started but not finished. It erased the post I had spent more than an hour composing. For me, that's not a lot of time, but a lot of effort overcoming inertia to get writing. I had taught a poetry class to special education students at Wauconda High School a week ago and heard myself telling them to write because they are the only one of them in the universe. That was enough to get me going again, and I want to write about what I see happening in the country. I have two people I love who will lose their jobs soon and with it, their health insurance. I have a coworker who lost her second job and with it, her health insurance. And I have a dear friend of ten years who has cancer. Her husband will lose his job soon and with it, his health insurance. A few years ago, I lost a friend to cancer because she had no health insurance and the hospital cut off treatment. People are dying. People I care about are afraid. The Obama administration has managed to get rid of the "uninsurable" label, but the cost of insurance is still unaffordable if you are out of work. We think that we can always go on Medicaid, but the doctors who will take medicare patients is dwindling (especially in Illinois, a state that doesn't pay its bills), and there can be a three-month wait to see one of those doctors. A book I read in church a few years ago talked about the fact that the ideas we use to solve a problem are the ones we have available to us. So I am calling for a discussion of the health care problem from anyone who has an opinion. Let us use good policy and take input from everyone who is affected. Then we can see the problem from all sides and make the best decision for the present time. Let's set in place a routine examination of the condition of our public health, including how we are paying for it. It's good to know that we are struggling with obesity, AIDS, and diabetes, but let's treat them like polio or smallpox. What can the government do to prevent and care for those who are suffering from such diseases?