On Suffering by Jared Harél
after Wislawa Szymborska
Pity it insists on visiting the innocent,
the absent-minded and ill-prepared.
It greets an old tailor as he tucks away
his tape measure. Drops in on a woman
jogging near the park. With no regard
for timing or shame, it crashes a nightclub,
the classroom and café. To be clear,
I’m no expert. I know only that suffering
simmers in every heart, singes in plain sight
like an electric stove. And though
my grandfather told me over and over,
I don’t know how he made it through bone
and mud in some shithole Polish village
in 1941, or how he lost everything,
brutally, and kept shuffling into light.
*Poem originally published in American Poetry Review
Jared Harél is the author of the debut poetry collection, Go Because I Love You (Diode Editions, 2018). He’s been awarded the ‘Stanley Kunitz Memorial Prize’ from American Poetry Review, the ‘William Matthews Poetry Prize’ from Asheville Poetry Review, and two Individual Artist Grants from Queen Council on the Arts. The grandson of Holocaust survivors, his poems have recently appeared in such journals as 32 Poems, Ploughshares, The Southern Review, The Sun and Threepenny Review. Harél lives with his wife and two kids in Queens, NY. You can follow him on Instagram @jaredharel.
Heshbon HaNefesh – A Poetic Accounting of a Pandemic Year is an independent group of poets and artists marking one year of the pandemic in North America. Click here for more about this project and how to join a live reading.