The Morphology of Compassion & Indifference

Photo:  Sonja Rosing

Gusts of wind rough up the white hibiscus on the lawn.
Petals tear. The sky looks sad enough to rain.

Leaves rustle requiems for flimsy bird bones,
and under a sleeping pigeon’s wing huddles a sliver of silence.

Vincent van Gogh wrote to his brother, Theo: There is peace
even in a storm. The heart of man, like the sea, hides storms, tides, and pearls.

Why does the sea beat itself senseless on rock? Eternity drips
like a leaky faucet. God and little blossom trees bravely try

to manufacture beauty—whether fine art or
cheap mimicry. But look at van Gogh, Pound, Plath:

passion is dangerous business and can induce lunacy.
Akira Kurosawa said: In a mad world, only the mad are sane.

Shadow soils the air’s gown. Is there no soap
strong enough to wash out darkness? The moon,

like an Afghan woman, wraps up in thin blue veils.
If the sun covered her face like that, it would always be night.

Prayers burn deep inside the throat like votives.
Identity is a peg on which we hang our time.

Plumber Juan Ruiz was arrested in Spain for charging
to keep the devil out of people’s sinks and drains.

Souls bend easily like coat hangers. Dreams are pollen,
their weight nearly imagined. People collect love

like lint, then throw love out, even if it sticks.
Bodies can’t stop playing dress-up with dust.

Is there a language untouched by hate?
Who hears the apology of the rain,

the pizzicato of spider feet playing cobweb harps
up in heaven near the ceiling?

Who notices that grasshoppers pray summer sacred
or that pebbles are soft like a child’s wrist?”

The sun’s lips kiss the earth goodbye so fervently they bleed.
The moon rises, a dispassionate saint.

Chinese poet Li Po, journeying by boat, tried to kiss
the moon’s perfect reflection, fell overboard, and drowned.

Unflinchingly, the lepidopterist sticks pins through butterflies.
Clouds keep mounting each other, procreating like rabbits.

Dwell on the beauty of life, said Marcus Aurelius. Watch
the stars and see yourself running with them.

But though stars sparkle with glory, they are dead
and don’t know anyone’s story.

Paradox operates on the same finely crafted hinges
as books or butterfly wings, opening inside out.

—Published in Carrying the Branch: Poets in Search of World Peace (Glass Lyre Press)

Photo:  Sonja Rosing