The Remembered Thorn

Heart pounding, Androcles knelt
beside the anguished lion, felt
more than heard the rumble in the throat.

Precious little of lions knew he
or how to turn the paw, gently
probe to find and take away the thorn.

Hesitant, but fearing pain
would overcome the lion’s restraint,
he despaired – then memory arose.

A rustic boyhood, unshod feet
scrambling over the hills of Crete,
a shortcut through the field, a misplaced step.

Clutching his foot in agony,
turning it over gingerly
to find the wound an inch-long thorn had made.

Then suddenly he was the beast;
the pain was his, resolve increased
as in now-steady hands he grasped the paw.

The lion gave an astonished roar
the thorn was in his paw no more;
the great tongue licked away the drops of blood.

So memory re-vivifies
experience, and we are wise
to seek in it a key to understanding.

The more we see the common core
of lived experience, the more
our suffering serves to heal the other.