by elin o’Hara slavick
This is not the time for poetry.
Words deny me.
I deny words.
The world does not need fragments.
It is screaming to be whole.
I keep busy
pulling up weeds – each clump the hair of a dictator,
floating in the pool of privilege – wanting everyone to have a pool,
doing laundry over and over again,
cooking for the family so we stay healthy
for the genocide,
walking the dog because it the only time she smiles
and races like a cartoon character down the hall to go out,
her paws circling the slippery floor,
feeding the cat
with her genetically pendulous belly,
observing the fallen white petals on the wet dark pavement,
the broken trees leaning perfectly
up against a tall tree trunk,
the fairytale modernist houses
tucked behind spiky bushes
that almost convince you
that our world is solid.
It has never been good
for the many.
All of this keeps me from the task at hand –
preparing to teach young adults
that art makes a difference
but I am not convinced.
I can cut all the paper in the towering boxes
on my desk for surreal collages,
prescribe antidotes to every disease,
paint masks on all the faces in photographic portraits
but there will always be more paper and nightmares,
pandemics and the need for catharses,
the maskless deniers carrying guns.
I rise early this morning
to move my body with others
on a little screen,
stamp a letter to my mother,
hoping the post office stays open long enough it to get there.
Everything good under threat,
you want to go back in time or forward,
imagining it was or could be better
but here we are –
hurricanes, droughts, floods, cages,
criminals at the helm of this sinking vessel
we all know as capitalism.
Why is the end of the world easier to imagine
than the end of capitalism?
I have stopped trying to understand
because reality defies logic,
gives into the worst.
If there is one thing I have learned
it is that we can not predict the future
but we pretend to change it.
Image: Painting from elin o’Hara slavick’s collection Bomb After Bomb