The Massacre of Innocence(diptych)
mixed media on canvas
(2) 5’ x 4’
Hardening of the Heart
By Glenn North after The Massacre of Innocence by Ada Koch
“Then Herod […] was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all of the children, from two years old and under….”
You don’t notice it at first
the way you casually watch
news reports of children slaughtered
in some hard-to-pronounce country
on the other side of the world
or the 3-year old girl on the other side of town
who had a hole put through her
throat by a drive-by bullet.
You don’t think twice when you hear
the laughs coming from your son’s room
as he racks up kills in Call of Duty.
Your recollection of the first time
you heard the phrase War on Terror
grows faint and though you pause
for a moment when the report
on Good Morning America
tells of Boko Haram burning 86 children
alive in a boarding school but you quickly switch
to the traffic report because you’re late for work.
You scroll past the news feeds on Facebook
on the anniversary of Sandy Hook
to tally up the likes of your most recent selfie
and although your heart is healthy
it is far more impenetrable, not unlike
the soldiers in Rubens’ Massacre of the Innocents
who at the bequest of the king
plunge spears through infant lungs,
bash the heads of babies against the stones.
When you view the artist’s modern interpretation
of the classic work are you even touched
by the silhouetted toddlers’ blood-drenched prayers?
When did your heart become a fist in your chest?
When did the rumors of war stop alarming you?
The numbing effect crept in ever so quietly,
and like a bullet through the throat
of a 3-year old girl, you never saw it coming.