Tricks of the Mind


      "So take a firm grip on yourself as best you can."
                                  –The Epistle of Privy Council

Use tricks of the mind, say the wise,
and I'm willing to try. Just say
it happened in the ancient days.
Pretend that he went with the Greeks
to their pagan kingdom, was perhaps
that green boy of stone who plays
his flute to this day on the terrace.
And think of scenes worse, those children
of Pompeii or Bhopal or Hiroshima.
Or here's a thought to consider:
He had a short life, but a good one,
and never partook of the evil.
And that's true. So one trick
of the mind may get through. And think
of those cheated of even more life,
how the gravedigger stood with his shovel
and said that his grandson lay near
but died at thirteen. And he leaned
on his shovel and wept, an old
gravedigger with no tricks of the mind.


David Ray, Music of Time: Selected & New Poems, The Backwaters Press, 2006.