Desperate to be Understood

Desperate to be Understood ~ Poems by an alumnus of Bingham Academy, Ethiopia

Desperate to be Understood ~ Poems by an alumnus of Bingham Academy, Ethiopia

When the tears tumble down 
And it burns inside 
The presence of comfort 
Speaks louder than words. 

When the strength ebbs so low 
That the world hobbles along 
The presence of comfort 
Speaks louder than words. 

When the cries go unheard 
And the insults are hurled 
The presence of comfort 
Speaks louder than words. 

There is a certain desperation 
That comes with those who think themselves 'strong'... 
Their concern is about 'right' 
Not so much my heart. 
The concern is to not go to the big feelings 
Because they do not like miserable, 
or hopeless despair 
or terror 
or anger 
or grief 
or shame/humiliation 
themselves. 

If they who are 'strong' 
Cannot even go to those feelings 
Because they are so difficult to feel, 
Does this not have a point 
That one who is indeed in the feelings 
Might just be feeling really miserable? 

But then I am chastized 
Because I am feeling miserable. 
Yet they can't go to the feeling, 
Be glad to be with me 
And help discover what is like me. 

How come I am chastized 
And scolded? 

How come they do not hear 
The repeated requests to listen 
To someone who could help 
Them be more understanding? 

How come they are offended 
That I want my 'mother'? 

Just like Bingham. 

Cry for home 
Need comfort. 
Get scolded, spanked 
For having feelings. 

The dorm supervisors and staff 
Insulted and offended 
Because I want my parents. 
The staff are not the ones 
I want or need. 

They are offended. 

Where is maturity 
To say, 
"Of course, you want your mommy! 
I am not her. You needed her 
Yesterday!!! 

What is it you so 
Like and miss about your mommy? 
Let me see if we can't get your 
Mommy! 

In the meantime, 
Let's be together 
And see what you need. 

Come. Let me rock you." 
And the tears are mixed 
From theirs with mine-- 
I can't tell whose are whose... 

When the weak and wounded 
Are the ones who are needing 
To have patience 
Because the community 
Refuses to say, 
"I don't know everything, 
I may not be mature as I thot." 
That speaks louder than words 
About the heart of the community. 

The presence of comfort 
Speaks louder than words. 

The presence of haughtiness/hostility 
Speaks louder than words. 

One brings life, 
While the other kills. 

May I please have some life? 

Marion Entz Harris, February 7, 2000 

Marion grew up in Ethiopia attending Bingham Academy.