they drove away
and someone said
how the future would be.
And despite the rationality
and even the equity
a harsh word was spoken
that there was no understanding.
And there in the back
as they drove away
the injustice held
a weight of bitterness.
And there in the front
as they drove away
and hoped that it would not be.
In this poem a family takes an older family member to a nursing home to live. In the situation, a child in the car is upset that this has happened.
In the first stanza, the family is driving away from the nursing home after dropping the older family member off. The child in the car thinks this is wrong and says to their parents that if taking grandma/grandpa to a nursing home is right, then one day they will take their parents to one. They make the statement that what their parents have done will be done to them. They do this to motivate their parents not to leave the older family member at the nursing home.
In the second stanza, the parents feel a sense of rationality and even equity in what their child was saying. It does seem just to them that what they have done, should be done to them, at least on an intellectual level.
In a practical sense though, they don’t feel this should be. They don’t see a connection between their treatment of the older family member and how they should be treated someday. They get upset with their child, and speak harshly to them, and they say the child does not understand the situation.
In the third stanza, the child is bitter. They feel that what their parents are doing is unjust. They become bitter, and resolve that someday they will put their parents in a nursing home, as a means, in their rationality, to teach them a lesson.
In the fourth stanza, the parents rationalize their decision to take the older family member to the nursing home. They run through reasons why “it is the best thing”. As they do though, they hope the future the child promises will not take place. They hope that they themselves will not be put in a nursing home someday.
This poem looks at the idea of justice in the sense of examining the idea of “what you have done to another, will be done to you”. It looks at this from the perspective of the people who are doing the thing, and from the perspective of the person who will one day be in their place. The poem in some sense looks at questioning current behavior under the thought of this idea coming to pass.