Fairy tales and other gospels
are not about heroes,
for in them, heroes pass into shadows.
They are for children,
but only adults weep to hear them.
For us, anonymity must be the goal,
the happily-everaftering to be sure,
but heroism is the doorway there.
It is the work of children,
the way adolescents are healed
of the fever of isolation, independence,
losing self to find self.
War can teach us to be heroes,
but too many die there, suspended,
fruit surprised by late frost, flood.
Love teaches most of us.
This expedition lasts most of our summers,
graduating us from smaller dragons
to larger ones,
letting us remain children
until we walk the enchanted forest
of our own children, face their giants.
Even Jesus had to disappear;
there was never room for him.
After the great abandonment,
when nails tore his flesh like wolves,
and dragons of shame and derision breathing fire
burned his nameless signature “X” upon the roiling sky,
first the tomb ate him, saying,
—Lie here with the fox, the birds will wake you.—
Then the clouds swallowed him up, saying
—Here there is room, little one,
at last, an inn.
Finally, he disappeared into human story,
where truly, finally, he lives.
At the moment of choosing,
we breach the darkness like dolphins
and dance in another world.
We return in oblivion, for
our true self is a unison of awareness;
we are not islands, but a sea;
not heroes, but a people.
Giants are slain so that houses can stand;
witches baked so that fathers can repent.
Sleeping beauties awaken to politics and factories;
they do not wait on their princes,
but share their tiny redeemed board
with bent people of tears and rough hands,
feeding them light from teacups,
spreading hope on their bread like strawberry jam.
(by Rory Cooney, 11/92)