Saturday, 5 November 2016

Athens 2016 #1 - poem

My older brother
was in trouble.
He had spent all his money,
borrowed heavily,
cheated his creditors
and lied to his friends.
He had become so desperate
he had been selling some of his cherished possessions
and
he had become so distressed
he was no longer able to earn money
with his hard-earned skills and experience.

He asked for my help.

I am in a fortunate position:
my businesses have prospered and
I am wealthy.

I could easily have given him the money
that he needed.
I could easily have directed some of my businesses
to give him work.
I could easily have offered him
an open hand.

But I did not.

Perhaps I had misunderstood his condition.
Perhaps I had become selfish and narrow.
Perhaps I had fallen under the sway
of arguments from people
whose view of the world is
nasty, 
brutish,
and short.

I decided it would be best
to lend him more money
but only under the strictest of conditions.
I obliged him
to list all his remaining belongings
and to make provision for selling them.
I obliged him
to start earning money again
however he could
and to repay me in instalments
on a regular basis.
I obliged him
to submit to frequent and detailed inspections
of every aspect of his life
so that I could be sure
I would get my money back.

I humiliated him.

At first he was angry
and he shouted and protested
and accused me of trying to crush him.
For a while
he refused my offers
and his situation worsened.
Eventually
he called me
and agreed to my terms.

Now he is laid low.
Now he is crawling on the ground,
peddling trinkets and
collecting loose change.
He is able to pay me the interest I demanded
but no more.
Now his home is crumbling
and his visitors leave only the smallest of gifts
in return for his hospitality.
Now
the crazed and magnificent sparkle in my brother's eye
is hidden
perhaps gone.

Now, I am ashamed.
At his time of need
I thought only of myself.
Now, even if I forgive him his debts -
as I surely must -
and restore his house -
as I surely must -
and honour his name -
as I surely must -
he may never forgive me

and he may never return.

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