The Heart of Empathy Speaks


I fell in love with foreign languages from before I could speak,

From Mother Goose nursery rhymes chanted to childhood,

Singing me through my days in silly lilting jibberish tolling tales–

Mesmerizing wispy wild figures sticking thumbs in plum pies

Or eating mystical morsels named curds and whey on a tuffet.

Then in college, I pined for the secret to unlock the hearts of 

Spanish, French and Russian poets, painters and culture magicians.

I cracked the code to some, forming strained lipped sounds,

Writing winsome words in chipped or open gullet accents  or

Symbols to sounds unmade, unimagined and click ticklish

until I could not remember my own tongue.

But after college, language tore at me, ripped me up

And left me dull, licit and languishing in legal triangles,

Endless geometry of angles, degrees and lines.

The law sandpapered language across imagination’s landscape,

Smoothed my edges in deeper, rounder archetypal paths, pregnancy, 

Until I lost Octavio Paz’s meter sanded out in childrearing recipes

Swapped with Guatemalan nannies.

Pellucid sentences peeled off like shredded wallpaper skin,

Their luster gone with a youthful jaunt, hop, gleam and trigger,

Flashed in skipping stones, falling in love and hopping fences

Round speedways, parks and wood clearings where music moved 

Us, loins and feet to primal noun-less, soundless speech, 

Just to see,  get a glimpse at lip-sung words beyond the barriers, 

Risking liberty and future, impelled by lusty mischief and rush.

Back then, I had to hear them sung in tune-ful missives keyed only to me.

And now, the remaining hash of come and gone, bright and dark, transforms

Acidic intestinal stew to sorcerer’s clairvoyant elixir: my gut tells me.

Among the clamorous hate-filled speeches and cautious creeds non-offending,

Blasted in soldiered lies and political stomps, and on uncivil, anti-social media,

The gurgle steels me listen to us, be your pain, own my heated core as if it were 

The world’s sole lingual ignition; the ravenous merging urge to swallow me up,

The kind you write in erotic type and imagery possessing, owning my pulse–

These are mere smoke signals, the wink-less language of I know you as I am.  

In the aftermath of lived language, word dross, let us, you and me, tutor empathy,

The Esperanza of human kindness,  re-remembered swish and slosh in thickish silent

 womb–connected to another’s rhymes and rhythms, as the song. 

 

On Becoming a Lawyer…

  
Had I been able to choose what I did, which cases I would take, I might have loved the practice of law much more. There is a vast ocean of practice areas open to an attorney to use his or her honed skills of critical reasoning and legal knowledge from court room performer/litigator to public sector or non-profit donor to pure researcher/writer mole. I would have loved to have remained that last one. 

When I first started earning money in law, I was a law clerk attending law school. At the first law office to hire me, I performed menial tasks like putting files together and collating large swaths of information for big cases into color coordinated indexes. My first case to organize was a personal injury case involving a young man, a big electric company worker, who fell into a transformer encasement and got electrocuted losing a foot, a hand and his penis. 

The medical records, depositions of experts and parties, as well as the research was an enormous mass of paper that needed parsing, indexing and cross-referencing. That was my first job, and it was terribly trying as I only knew lovely painful struggles with the word before that as a literature student. This was dry, boring and taxing for the medical and legal terminology so foreign to me. Moreover, procedure is so much of the law. Knowing procedures that change daily everywhere from office to office, inside an office, among the various court clerk’s offices, courtrooms, and other attorney’s offices is an ongoing re-training: one of the reasons the practice of law is a practice. There is no way to ever get it nailed once and for all.