On private grief and political imagination

My mom was dying of brain cancer during the War in Iraq. My private grief and catastrophic tenderness in those brutal months made my political imagination and compassion more acute than ever before. “There is only ever one death // So many names for the unnameable,” as I wrote at that time. Paris, Beirut, Iraq, Bonita. So many names. All love can be a light, even grief, even if it is a painful light. I am quite sure our work in speaking to one another about painful things is the same thing the Buddhists say and that I ask my children often to try to learn to consider when they are really worked up and upset: what is going to make matters better, instead of making them worse?

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