On Surrender


Tyranny would teach us
that its strength lies in the power
to inflict pain and sorrow.
But pain is not a measure of my weakness;
it is a universal cord that binds me
to my brothers and my sisters.

The Mystery whispers
of a knowing beyond experience
that flows on a gentler parallel
under, around, over and through
the dam of human fear.
Immune to passing circumstance,
its strength lies neither
in numbers nor resistance,
but in the unity of defenselessness.

On a cresting wave of compassion,
may all the trapped debris
that bars me from the current
dissolve in the hands of my enemy,
for only in surrender can I understand …
we are one.

© Mary Boren, 2012


“The unity of defenselessness” is a disquieting theme when looked upon quickly (as I did at first!), but becomes a a more distinct unit of power when thought upon deeply. Adding “for only in surrender can I understand … we are one” throws the final light beam upon “unity of defenseless” and gives the concept it’s only shining glory — that “pain and sorrow…not a measure of my weakness; it is a universal cord that binds me to my brothers and sisters” is the conquering factor to “tyranny”.

What I gain here is that Tyranny will wield its power by inflicting pain and sorrow (usually upon the huddled masses), but the longer it wields, the weaker it becomes (for how long can you continue to flail a whip before your arm becomes tired?, although Tyranny often simply hands the whip to someone else, rapscallions that they are…). In contrast, the huddled masses, the “unity of defenselessness” actually grow stronger through unity and forbearance, long-suffering  being the flame that gives the metal its mettle, all through forging of time. (And I’ve often wondered how powerful one who forges metal feels, some make beautiful art…)

As for the form, I feel the free-flowing quality of the words whisper the entire thought, much like a friendly oracle. The anticipation of “what comes next” is eliminated, unlike it would be in rhyme, in which I often find myself over-noticing the last word of each line to wonder what similar sound will come next. This makes the poem more of a “talking piece” than a “sounding piece”, and, to me, intensifies its message, making it even more memorable.

Katherine Michaels, 2014

In a Sooty Boot-Black Ginnel