despite the cost

compassion threatens to
suffocate all who live to
extend it.

our hearts dissolve
directly proportionate to
our capacity to feel

a little of
what it’s like to
be you.

we could allow compassion
to bypass care, anguish,

and instead steer this
healing gift

the chasm of cynicism,
establishing permanent residency
in anger.

it seems safer there–
less painful, the
immediacy of

explosive release
building a temporary

but this hostile dwelling
is dark: cold without

serving only to further
the agenda of

from oneself or one’s
neighbor, offering
no space for community,

leaving us homeless,
dismembered, a mere shadow
of who we can be.

allow tears to flow,
hearts to feel,

to admit grief and
for only

then can the
dignity of compassion
be sustained,

rising as a shield against the
destructive forces of rage,

expanding to give birth to

warmth, welcome,
well-being, blossoming into
tangible embrace

for all humanity.

we shall offer love in place
of indifference, extend

instead of withdrawal,
carry within our

hope for our neighbor,
our human family,
despite the cost.


© Julia Penner-Zook, 2018
Photo Credit: Annie Spratt via
Twitter: @J_Pennz
Instagram: @j_penner_zook


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