Finally Listening

The sun’s last flares are dying
over the horizon’s shoulder.
In the rearview mirror, odd-shaped clouds stretch
north, drifting through the Minneapolis skyscrapers.
Suddenly the sound of bombs bursting
ricochets through the car radio,
the calamity of distant buildings collapsing,
cascades through my mind,
and out my car window desperate men,
women and children–
some on other’s backs, some in arms–bend
forward toward no return. The debris begins
to cluster on the road, casting ashes
over children buried together and burnt,
or left to die of thirst.  A headless woman
lies by the side of the road.  
As dusk darkens, the conflict surges.
A few miles left to reach home.
Can I outrun this destruction?
Perhaps. Soon I will be protected, secure
in my plentiful home with my distant
knowledge of the world. My dog will greet me.
I turn the dial to escape these images floating
in my mind. I don’t want to hear all I never really noticed—
refugees fleeing, slaughtered, how homes were bulldozed
or blown up, how treaties were never meant
to be signed. How olive groves were demolished,
barrier walls erected, travel not allowed.
The skyline inalterably changed—
any dreams of restoration, of peace
will be in the hands of our great grandchildren—
if they ever exist, if they ever live to pass through
these ruined walls of our world.


Sandra Sidman Larson






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