The Individual Is To Blame

I was not the man who
Swaggered onto the plantation,
Twin pistols smoking in my hands,
Who rescued his stolen princess
From the clutches of forced slavery.

I was in the cotton field, filling
My sack, my fingers blistered and bleeding.

I was not the man who
Sauntered into the house,
Fists like stones, and pounded
His wife’s face until it turned purple.

I was the child in the corner, crying
And trying to find a hiding spot
Before it was my turn to be punished.

Do not praise me for your rescue
Nor blame me for your hurt, not unless
I am the hero or the villain. There are enough
Stains on my hands; my skin is scarred and there
Is not an inch left unmarred for injuries
I did not inflict. And I’ve done my fair share of damage.

I confused beating with obedience;
Sometimes you had to physically assault
A loved one to get them to behave properly.
That was the reason for my whippings
And for my fights with my siblings.
I had to enforce my dominance in a world
Where might equaled righteousness.
My parents and I were mistaken.

I thought lovers needed saving,
As they were too weak to save themselves.
I believed they needed me, as much as I
Needed a purpose and goal to achieve.
My error. My lovers gained freedom
Once they let go of my cape. And I gained
Satisfaction and insight from my failures.

If I have wronged you, confront me.
If I have been of benefit, comfort me.
If I have done neither, leave me be.

I am not the demon devouring your soul.
I am not the angel sent to rescue you.
I am a person, full of individual flaws
And personal strengths–just like you.

Copyright 2012
A. J. Hayes
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