Warning: This poem features the aftermath of a store robbery and people feeling upset about that. Please consider your tastes and headspace before reading onward.
"Neither Are You Free"
Dale looked at the wreck of
the neighborhood grocery store,
its wares flung everywhere in
the wake of the robbery and
the investigation that followed.
"Sometimes I feel as if
my whole career has been
a complete waste of time,"
Kelly patted her shoulder.
You helped a lot of people,
she signed. Today we're here
to help more. It's not a waste.
It's hard work, but worthwhile.
"I know, it just seems like ...
nothing is ever enough, because
crap like this keeps happening,"
Dale said, waving a hand at
the wreckage in the aisles.
"Tikkun olam," Rivka said firmly
as she guided Dale to a chair
amongst the inventory team, then
pointed Kelly toward the brooms.
"You are not obligated to complete
the work, but neither are you
free to abandon it."
Dale looked at Johnny Long,
still in uniform, who was wiping
the fingerprint dust off of items
before dropping them into boxes
marked Sale or Charity.
"All right," she said. "I guess
that I can still do my part."
She picked up a rag and went to work.
* * *
Tikkun olam is the Jewish custom of "world repair." When bad things happen, work on making the world a better place.