I went to the museum lecture
to learn something new. The photographer
spoke of his travels to Turkey
with stacks of pinhole cameras
to help the children of Syrian refugees
make something beautiful.
You should too, he said.
Those who say can’t mean won’t.
The whole world is on fire.

Around the corner
a man on the sidewalk convulsed in his
sleeping bag. A puckered old woman
in polka dot pants
unlocked her suitcase from the bike rack
in front of the city library. A blond
boy with a begging sign played
his cello so fiercely the strings curled
and snapped in the wind like cables of a collapsing
rope bridge.

The heater was left on
and I sweltered in the night,
tossed in a sticky web of midnight
daydreams, took a pill,
dreamed at last of killer waves and angry relatives.

Now the morning news tells me a bomb went off
at a bus stop someplace in the far east.
Another plane plunged into the sea.
Those children in Syria are dying from the cold
before the bullets can kill them.

The bus was late. I forgot my lunch
on the counter at home. The coffee pot
at the office sparked and smoked.
I cut my finger on the staple remover. My
spine bends a little further to the left each day.
I’m unprepared for fire or weather.
I bought a sandwich,
carried it around, handed it to a man in rags
shivering on the corner,
flames licking at my boots
as I walked away.

Gina Williams