The Empath


This story starts a long time ago.
When I found a flightless, damaged crow.
His misfortune of meeting a car.
His safety from the shoulder too far.

His black eyes frightened and pleading.
Flopping and fanning his broken leg bleeding.
And so I scooped him up and ran off the highway.
Wishing he’d taken his meal on some lonesome byway.

 And as I held him his breathing slowed.
And out of him into me his pain flowed.
My right arm seared with pain and I felt sick.
A pain so intense burning and thick.

But still I held him in my hands.
And his damaged wing began to fan.
His eyes became warm and calm.
His composure now colored with aplomb.

So I looked at his broken leg drawn into a fist.
His lower portion bleeding from a half twist.
I held him with my left hand.
I touched his bleeding broken band.

Again I made his pain flee.
And again it went straight into me.
Snapping, twisting, searing and seething.
So I fell upon my knees in agony.

Lying now on the side of the road feeling half dead.
The Crow walks up and gently rubs his beak on my head.
The pain in my leg is fleeting.
And the pain in my arm also retreating.

The Crow hops around me tilting his head.
For it surprises me that he has not fled.
Man has not been kind to this species of bird.
Still here he is cawing avian for our words.

 Seeing him whole again is worth my pain.
Tis a trivial part of my existence for this exchange.
A simple Crow-healing that I could do.
Simple for me but not for you.

Something I would not wish on my fellow man.
An exchange of pain rather than.
This trade of sorts not without consequence.
A trade repaid with severe recompense.

To take another’s pain and suffering.
There is no celestial buffering.
Between the broken and the whole.
These trades always take their toll.

 For years I’ve asked God to give me this.
And so he has without any dismiss.
For his universal order.
For I have become a human pain recorder.

Each time I take on an exchange.
I get a physiological change.
And so it seems I gain a few hours of youth.
So I see these events from the owner’s own truth.

Reliving each accident and through their eyes.
Wondering if this time they will die?
Feeling the pain of lies.
Feeling the tears in their eyes.

Affairs of the heart bad as broken bones.
A heart full of holes, and dead zones.
I’ve touched the betrayed and heartbroken.
Recipients of the sharp edged words spoken.

 A friend came to me in great need.
His wife was sick and he did plead.
With me to help her for he knew of me.
And so he said unto me “she is dying you see.”

So we went to the hospital where she was.
And one of the nurses ran up to us because.
His wife was dying and called out for him.
The doctor’s face dark and painted  grim.

So I asked the doctor what was wrong with her.
And he told me that she had some type of cancer.
So my friend asked me to touch his wife.
And his request filled me with fear and strife.

I became sick with fear and so afraid.
So close to the death she was laid.
For I had not been so close to death.
And I could not catch my breath.

I wondered if this exchange would be my end.
This ultimate sacrifice for my friend.
As I looked into her eyes saw her life light waning.
Her life light running out of her in the minutes remaining.

 Doing her best to hold on.
Most of her now already gone.
I have seen too much death in my time.
Her life now beginning to sublime.

So I could not let her go.
And into me her darkness did flow.
Surging and black as night.
And I saw this white light blinding and bright.

 I heard this voice saying “I cannot let you do this.”
“I will return the woman from death I dismiss.”
So I awoke in a hospital bed.
Doctors and nurses shinning lights on my head.

A doctor spoke to me and said.
“Your friend’s wife is back from the dead.”
“I don’t know how you did this.”
My friends face bright with bliss.

And the doctor asked me how I felt.
So I told him that I had been dealt.
With another chance at life.
I turned to see my friend kissing his wife.

I cannot exchange with humans now you see.
Being so close to death is not fine with me.
I can still take animals pain away.
It extends my life line my doctors say.

 I do less now because it still hurts like hell.
I help old dogs, and horses, pray tell.
And any other animal I feel like healing.
Such an odd experience their pain stealing.

But I have minutes of wellbeing in my soul.
From the brief pain from them I extoll.
So I have been able to see that animals have souls.
And that makes my damaged heart whole.

So to God I said one day.
“I have something I need to say.”
“If all my dogs aren’t’ in heaven then I ain’t going.”
And he said to me, “They’re all here and with you go in.”

So if I stop making exchanges I will die someday.
And then in heaven with all my dogs I will play.
And with all the animals that I have fixed.
From now till then betwixt.

Dave Proffitt












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