Her own troubles are too much to bear
so she tells someone else
and when my troubles are too much to bear
I tell someone else
because your troubles are under your custody
you have total control
over who knows them
and who doesn't know.
when she tells me my troubles
she passes them on to me.
Now, I understand too.
I'm a second record of an essential but unpleasant document.
Now, should she ever need to remember,
and I can back her up
and so she doesn't need to keep her troubles all together
in her mind,
and so she can let their primary copy
what do I do?
I've taken her troubles onto myself.
I can't forget
because then what would she do
with no primary copy
and a damaged and blurry secondary?
If she doesn't tend to her troubles
and keep them all corralled together,
one or two
might slip under the fence
in the night
and out into the wild confines
of her wider mind.
So they must always stay organized.
She cannot afford
to misplace even one.
I cannot pass her troubles on to someone else
because I am
her someone else.
Troubles watchman cannot swing down along a chain;
from person to person
by the transitive property:
I care about you,
and you care about her and she cares about him,
And to spare you your sleepless nights watching the moon rise over the barbed gate,
I'll take your troubles that you took from her
because you wanted to spare her
from what she took from him
to spare him.
am close enough to understand her
and care about her.
She says that her family is like a lion's den.
Food is not readily available
because no one cooks for her,
and she is vegan
and a teenager
and a student,
who lacks the time
to clean up after herself
every time she cooks for herself,
as is required.
She notices that she doesn't eat much,
Food is thrown into the den.
Scramble and fight
She isn't a fighter,
but she is suddenly finding herself
Nothing like her cousin's household,
where they organize
their three meals a day.
Everyone believes in God,
and they all sit at a table
and say grace
What can I say?
I don't have this trouble.
I have others...
have I been grateful
to be able
to leave dirty dishes in the sink
after spreading bread with peanut butter-
in a hurry, early in the morning-
and eat quickly
as I walk down the street.
that she's letting me be her sentinel,
but her troubles will have to go.
I'm too busy
and too sad
to take on another's burden.
I install a camera above the fence
to give myself a break.
It's called poetry,
or a diary entry
or writing a letter
to my future self.
It's called getting my thoughts out of my head
and into a place where they won't be endangered,
by failing memory or human folly.
A lined page and an old blue pen with faded ink,
a screen and ten pushing fingers perched atop clicking keys,
have no thoughts,
and make no mistakes.
They can keep everything indefinitely-
but I won't need forever,
are not forever.
Human memories wither
A sentry in the night
will feel their head nod down
and their eyes close.
But a paper will never change
and a camera will stay awake.
Should I ever need to remember
each of the details
of my troubles,
I can pull back the swiveling chair
from the table
in the sentinel's dim, colorless office
and sit down before the ancient computer.
I can pull up a record from the depths of a database
or scroll through hours of grainy black-and-white footage
to find that one flicker of movement
showing which specific trouble
applies to me
I will only take
what I need,
and even that
I will let go
as soon as the need
A camera can watch, from the barbed-wire topped gate,
for hours and hours on end.
It never needs a break,
never minds staying up all night
as the moon sets again
over that distant fence
far off at the horizon.
Words on a page
or flitting out between distant servers
can monitor my troubles,
so that we
don't have to.
Within their corral,
the troubles gallop, skip, and hop.
Millions of them!
Dark, with luminescent colors reflecting off their feathers.
They tussle, sleep, play, and learn.
they live and they die.
Sometimes, when they breed,
so much that they carpet the meadows with soft and dark shapes
and their vast numbers strain up against the wire gates.
What do I care?
Let yourself have peace of mind.
your midnight watchman.