Fragile Interdependence

Inspired by the family in Tennessee Williams’ play The Glass Menagerie

The burden of glass we clash to pass

To live as stone, to blood immune–

In independence we live en masse,

In individuality live in tune.


Behold the brother–O my brother!–

Sacrificing self for self,

Escaping to illusion other

When in the same he struggles for pelf.


Behold the mother–O my mother!–

In dreams of past relishing, ignoring

That such destroys her ever,

That blindness soon will end her laughing.


Behold the sister–O my sister!–

Whose angelic touch, melodic calm,

Struggling to tread the water’s blister,

Lost, in shepherding finding not the balm.


They all are glass, and their worlds the same,

But none do see themselves as shattered!

Heaven forbid! they think a light came,

That they are seamless, never tattered.

And yet, before a laugh, tell you me this:

In what other can they trust?

Do you dare to jeer and hiss

When in this reality, in this ache live you must?

The lights of neon, the lights of leisure,

They crumble though science knows not what

They all are made of: divine stuff it must conjure,

For no earthly light can both heal and cut. 

In such a life one needs a bolt electric

To split illusion, to truth reveal,

And yet a candle romantic

That through truth slowly flickers a love that’s real.


Who is the brother and mother and sister?

The ones who walk in the will of God,*

The ones who illusion fluster,

Those who elsewhere trod.

So let us pass the glass,

Not to menageries, but to the manger all-encompassing–

For if the world is there, lamps of gas

Will turn to vapor when in babe’s arms we’re running

And turning to light-glory.

*Refer to Mark 3:35.

~Sarah Merly

April 21, 2019

Isaiah 53