Suffering is exact

Posted after reading something truly horrible.


“Of course I was drugged, and so heavily I did not regain consciousness until the next morning.  I was horrified to discover that I had been ruined, and for some days I was inconsolable, and cried like a child to be killed or sent back to my aunt.”

–Mayhew, London Labour and the London Poor

Even so distant, I can taste the grief,
Bitter and sharp with stalks, he made you gulp.
The sun’s occasional print, the brisk brief
Worry of wheels along the street outside
Where bridal London bows the other way,
And light, unanswerable and tall and wide,
Forbids the scar to heal, and drives
Shame out of hiding.  All the unhurried day,
Your mind lay open like a drawer of knives.

Slums, years, have buried you.  I would not dare
Console you if I could.  What can be said,
Except that suffering is exact, but where
Desire takes charge, readings will grow erratic?
For you would hardly care
That you were less deceived, out on that bed,
Than he was, stumbling up the breathless stair
To burst into fulfillment’s desolate attic.

– Philip Larkin

3 thoughts on “Suffering is exact”

  1. What is this newborn fear I feel,
    Gnawing like tiny paper cuts
    On love’s discarded orange peel?
    Sightless, toneless, in our stainless huts
    We bare our gritty, uneven pasts
    In Chicago’s harsh unjudging light.
    Shall we now raise high our masts,
    Or lie still, succoming to the clamorous blight?

    Whatever happened miles ago, yet
    We dare not ponder selfishly, alone.
    That you, and I, and all we beget
    Will, as fawns to salt, now atone.
    Has the rapier, steely sharp in check
    Slid too far, pierced the very air?
    Or, can we gently brush the fleck
    That gnarls the pain we need to share?

    – Dyna Mastend

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