I learned long ago the sounds of anger:
raised voices, harsh words,
the rumbling sounds of a coming storm.
I felt it in the thundering shudder of angry skies,
the severe sizzle and crack of close lightning.
I learned long ago the after-shocks:
rigid faces, tense muscles, narrowed eyes
that slowly yielded to deeper hurts.
Bowed heads, hands against the face,
the long, choking sobs against the pillow.
I learned long ago the choices:
ancient anchored grudges,
slow simmering resentment,
a hollowing vengeance,
Those, too, come with costs:
an anger that eats its hosts,
a deepening bitterness,
intractable words and actions,
a healing of the self and others.
As a teenager I began to fathom
the strange strength of gentleness,
how words softly spoken
could still a tempest of pain and anger,
how a tender touch
could heal deep wounds and old scars,
could soon turn marring into molding
of better growth
and bring hope to a doubting heart,
something like light into darkness.
This thing—gentleness—it is an art
more admired than practiced, perhaps,
but in my older age
I see it calming a dark rage
that I could not understand nor explain.
It is a lovely thing, I think,
a doing that brings blessing
to both gift and giver,
a source of peace that guides
both what and how.
I hope that when my years are ended,
there will be some good remembering,
that others found my touch gentle,
my words calm,
and that love finally found its way
into what I do and say.