Shadow Strangers (Two Doors Down) | Teen Ink

Shadow Strangers (Two Doors Down)

November 7, 2013
By xo_zozo GOLD, Rochester, Vermont
xo_zozo GOLD, Rochester, Vermont
13 articles 2 photos 21 comments

Favorite Quote:
"I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living, it's a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope. Which is what I do, and that enables you to laugh at life's realities."
--Dr. Seuss

The lights are flashing out my window again
bone-paralyzing, the fear that this time
they might be coming here
coming for someone I love
coming for me
and the feeling of relief
when they turn into my neighbors driveway
makes me hate myself
because I wouldn't wish pain on any of them
but I can only be glad
it's the house two doors down
and across the street
instead of anyone else in this town

And I take a deep breath
because everything's okay for now
at least in this tiny, selfish haven
surrounding me
unbreakable for now

Thursday morning
It'll be in the paper
I'll see the names of those people
I've seen a thousand times before
separated only by a few
walls and shallow doors
and although I barely know their names
the fact that someone this close to me is in pain
distresses me

I can't help wondering
if I have any right to be sad or frightened?
after all...what do I know about what's happening
two doors down?
Do I have the right to feel anything at all?
For just because we're neighbors
Doesn't mean that we're not strangers.

And these shadow-people
have no reason to be affecting me
--the lights flash on the street once more
startling me from my musings
Nothing dramatic, all is silent...but someone
must be hurt

And in a universe separate from mine
if only by a few windows and doors
Someone's whole life
could be destroyed as I write
And, sure, I'm sad...
but in the end
how will it affect my life?

Not to sound cold
Because of course I CARE
but what can I do
Besides say that I say sympathize
Which is barely even true
because how can I possibly know
What they're going through?
Isn't it selfish to presume
That I could so much as begin
to understand their pain?

After all, these neighbors aren't old
middle aged, and certainly not friendly
But what can I do
when they're merely shadow-people
to me?
non-existent outside of slippery car windows

My aptitude for blocking out the sadness
somewhat confuses and distresses me
But I find myself bewildered
because I care more about people
whom I've never even met
Than these strangers across the road
two doors down.
Because what do shadow-people mean?

I feel selfish and alone
knowing full-well how I sound
But I mean this is in the kindest way
and I do, I do wish them well
Only, if I can't understand their pain
maybe I will feel for myself

So then, I must ask the question:
Am I afraid of the ambulance and
all that follows it?
Or perhaps I'm just astounded
That these neighbors, after all,
Are only shadow-strangers.

The author's comments:
This poem is very different than anything I've written before. It is about the idea that even though we have all felt sadness...we are always separate from other people's emotions. Even people who we thought that we knew well.

When something really tragic's very hard to know that you can't do anything about it. So, if you can't do anything about it, what can you do?

That's a question I've never been able to answer.

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