“A children’s hospital in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol has been destroyed by Russian air strikes…” – Reuters
I’ve spent the Annus Horribilis by my Hibiscus
and birdfeeder, sniffing for nectar, growing old.
Some days the clouds have been shaped like the paper
planes I flung as a boy: in my naïveté, I expected
each to reach the moon, to transmute into
aluminum and steel, cross oceans, fly forever.
And as a boy, no matter how many times the paper
crumpled, I’d smooth the edges, try again, again,
flinging so often that even now my arm aches, all year
I’ve massaged it: on days when smoke swallows the
paper-plane-clouds, on nights when coyotes growl
like nightmares and many-legged critters laugh at
me, dressed in pajamas, wielding a stick like a shield
against death. But death is advancing like something
immovable, lifeless. I may as well pour water on the
sun as extinguish this sadness. War breaks out at lunch.
Bad news blares from every stamen, every mouth, every
passing car and leaf blower. I am coated in dust. It has
been too long since I left this spot. How do trees do it?
Do they too grow stiff and restless? Do they too long
for the grand gesture: to sink an oligarch’s yacht,
shoot down a plane, staunch all this bleeding?
The coffins are stacked so high now, they’ve blotted out
the sun. Little boy, you’ve grown up. Your arm aches and
your heart hurts. Yet you well know that all things are
possible. After a year, a ream of paper crashes but does
not explode. Bloodied families gather around the wreckage,
fold page after page and point at the sky, laughing, relieved…