Advice by Nancy Schatz Alton
“In fact it takes a long time to realize/ your suffering is of very little consequence/ to anyone but you.” –Melissa Stein, from “Seven Minutes in Heaven.”
When the suffering comes the entire house sleeps
Or it feels like that
But the noises tell you otherwise
The rain drips from the gutter
The fridge cycles on and off
Your daughter turns over
Maybe she wakes for two seconds.
Still, the dark is your only company
And she doesn’t make tea
She is silent
Remember how the teens told you
The speaker advised them not to give advice
When friends complain?
How ridiculous, said your teens,
We want advice!
They aren’t 47.
At 16, there’s an answer that sounds right
Existentialism is different at every age
And suffering has consequences:
Some people will leave you when you are ugly
Some people won’t.
Some will say as they drive you to get you finger stitched up
Why don’t you go ahead and cry?
This is a consequence of love
Both the leaving and the staying
You get to grieve the leaving
Send pictures of the stitches.
Your amazement at how the body heals
Worthy of amazement.
Life’s grand pageant: shared.