[Image description: Photo of a forty-something white woman with long brown hair and wearing a dark blue winter coat in the foreground. She is in the woods on a sunny winter day, with mostly bare trees in the background and sunlight flooding the frame.]

How little we genuinely can perceive
of someone else’s experience,
our perception stemming
from our own awareness.

A cool hand may soothe a flushed cheek
or be felt as shock from icy fingers.
A nonchalant observation may be forgotten
or forever taken to heart.

Regardless of intention,
or our observed response,
we can’t fully know
another’s interoception.

Even explanations
can fail to bridge the gap,
tempting as it is to think
we comprehend.

Compassion, empathy,
involves remembering
how limited is our insight
into bodies, minds, and lives
not our own.

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