You and Your Ilk
I have thought much upon
who might be my ilk,
and that I am ilk myself if I have ilk.
Is one of my ilk, or me, the barber
who cuts the hair of the blind?
And the man crushed by cruelties
for which we can't imagine sorrow,
who would be his ilk?
And whose ilk was it
standing around, hands in pockets, May 1933,
when 2,242 tons of books were burned?
Not mine. So: what makes my ilkness my
ilkness? No answers, none forthcoming.
To be one of the ilks, that's all
I hoped for; to say hello to the mailman,
nod to my neighbors, to watch
my children climb the stairs of a big yellow bus
which takes them to a place
where they learn to read
and write and eat their lunches
from puzzle trays—all around them, amid
the clatter and din,
amid bananas, bread, and milk.
all around them: them and their ilk.
Thomas Lux's poem reminds me of the adages, like attracts like, birds of a feather flock together, lie down with dogs and wake up with fleas, and, you know a man by the company he keeps.
I think it's fair to say that we humans are drawn to those who are most like us, (and sometimes, due to curiosity, moth-to-the-flame tendencies, opposite attracts magnetism, to those directly opposite us). We tend to define ourselves, and others, by our own measure, our individual standard.
I've always had a wide, eclectic group of friends, but my inner circle, the people I see and speak to daily, is tiny. I'm not exactly certain how I would define my ilkness, other than my ilk is a very small circle of creative and curious people.
What is your ilk?