Art Life



In the gray of the subway platform,
bodies pressed close, 
coats wet with melting snow.
At my face, a hand.
It wrapped around the pole,
its nails, curved and sharpened like a cat's,
caked black with dirt. 

It was a weapon, 
a paw with which to slash,
a hand shaped by fear.
Someone lived in danger,
might need to tumble sideways from sleep
and strike--to defend their life 
or their blankets 
or their single coin. 

When I edged my eyes to see whose hand
I found a short, slight man in worn clothes,
a man grown old unsafe.
He saw through his rheumy eyes
a world different from mine.

But don't we all know fear?
need to defend? wake in darkness?
I recognized that face.

—Sarah Webb


Do I believe as you believe?
Probably not.
Did I believe as you believe?
Will I believe as you believe?
Definitely Not.

To me, belief is like the ocean near the shore.
Big waves forcing me back to the beach.
Medium waves covering me from head to toe.
Small waves gently lapping at my feet.

Core beliefs
I feel, I was born with these.
Equality for all.
Be kind.
Stand Strong.
Hold the hand of the helpless.
Remove the burden from someone’s back.
Protect the child.

Religious beliefs
I feel, I was gifted.
Love thy Neighbor as thyself.
Feed the people.
Place others’ needs before your own.
Bless the children and the animals.
Gather the lost sheep.

Beliefs can be mystical and contain Grace.
They can be the butterfly in a field of flowers.
They can be Evil, causing destruction and Death.
They can be the hurricane in the ocean.
Beliefs can come and go.

Will my beliefs ever match yours exactly?
Probably not.
Will you try to make your beliefs my own or the other way round?
Can we learn to teach our children well?
Can we have our beliefs walk side by side?

—Melissa K. Tolliver