The Nature of Heroism


It may have taken him months to summon
the courage and then you come along
and pluck him out of the water as if it were
your sacred duty, a religious act.
Or perhaps it was just a reflex, something
you did without thinking.

Being heroic is in your nature.
You’re like the off-duty fireman
who runs into a burning building
to save the screaming child. Or are you?

Maybe it would be better for everyone
if you just walked by reciting
“The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” to yourself
instead of jumping into someone else’s life
like Clark Kent going inside a telephone booth
for a change of costume.

Alan Harawitz