Shitty Shame

Shame is shit 

From toddlerhood we are taught
to hold it, control it
to flush it into oblivion
Yet, try as we might
     we are never free of it  

Shame is contagious
It is passed down, parent to child
     in cutting words and 
explosions of rage
and some shamed children
desperate to reclaim their worth
humiliate smaller victims
spitting names that become 
            barnacles on the soul
Shame is inherited 
through perennial generations
     the gene that keeps on giving
          a legacy of never enough

How much of our finite lifeblood 
is spilled on fighting and striving 
to prove that little voice
     the echo from long ago
      once and for all

Even if we hide it away 
in a plastic bag within a box
far back in the corner 
of a closet shelf
in a rarely visited room
its power is not diminished
It only finds new ways 
to jerk our strings 
snaking through vents to 
provoke odd overreactions
that puzzle and upend
Shame will persist

It takes the courage 
of a spelunker
to go within 
    to find the bag 
       within the box
to expose it 
to the light, the air
to cup it tenderly 
in our hands
and extend to it 
the paradox of love

to weep the unwept tears
to trace its provenance
and at last in the skin
of the adult in the room 
to forgive the shamers
     for the sake of their
 own wounds

For there is in the earth 
     an everyday miracle
a mysterious alchemy
     in which dung makes 
the richest compost
and grows a garden of 
     sweet and generous beauty
that fattens our withering soul
and maybe even blesses 
a lonely world

And that is 
            the only real 

by Celeste Boudreaux, March 2023
* * * Collage by Celeste Boudreaux, March 2023 * * *

2 Comments on “Shitty Shame”

  1. I love the little red mushroom that grows in the dark rich soil. Manure. And yet what lovely little “flavor sponges” that absorb and transform any dish they are added to. They go from darkness to brightness.


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