Lying near the surf, on a crowded beach, their bodies
strewn like stones, I found one I placed in my heart
to better see its features clearly. It’s creases softened
inside my skin, its life renewed from the distillations
of my searching alembic. I saw tears beneath familiar
eyes seeking safety. I dried its cheeks with my hand
and felt its skin warm. Though at first inanimate to me,
it now seemed like a child I once knew. It was hungry,
so I fed the face grown old like mine and saw a smile.
When I turned away from my reflection I saw the beach
again a finite space filled with countless refugees,
their needs no larger than the hearts of those more fortunate.
From stars far removed, in time and space but no more,
vast waves arrive, with powers still that stir the air to move us.
But bound by data to our screens, the blinding lights
and antic motions, we can’t hear the harmony. An inquisitor
raps against my walls of feigned indifference – insouciance,
I call it – my own fingers accuse me in my laptop speculation.
Sweet drinks and rhapsodies, sit-coms and journeys to far away islands
cannot support the foundations of our imaginary lives – we disappear.
The revelations I sought in the music of the arts cools:
the words have lost their meaning, the melodies
their natural syncopation, and my portrait its sunny disposition
– or haven’t you noticed? So content in your quest for happiness.
Beneath the bright, shiny songs of the angels we’ve adored,
whose voices rise and fall contained; whose scoured images
of perfection radiate with the plucked plumage of innocent birds,
our consumption of matter can not support this artifice of joy.
The vital signs of our purpose, once found in the heartbeat
of the living, the pulse of the old and the laughter of the young
is swallowed by their all around suffering; admit, we fear
the loss of our meaning – the inquisitor lurks inside our voice.
But from the edge of everything the once upon a time still
calls us, hear it, make time for a better world for all things!
All of us hate something, or other, at one time
or another: the day, the dog, the chair
in the middle of the room. Some of us hate them,
but for different reasons: they love the wrong god,
or love the wrong person, or love the wrong color
of skin! But today I fear I hate the species
that forgot love. Such lack of love is suicide,
a migrant drowning in a sea of manic turbulence;
a refugee lost in a desert of moral counterfeits,
every border a barrier, every country my hopeless state.
God “. . . loveth the stranger, in giving him food and raiment. Love ye therefore
the stranger: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.”
King James translation