where the writers are
After the News

The tea bag sinks to the bottom of the cup.
I wait a few minutes; watch as the water turns dark.
I sip the tea. It works no magic.

I go outside; watch the sun set.
As it sinks into the Pacific,
Cirrus clouds—high overhead—turn pink.

In Sarajevo, Mufid's mother
Marinated pink rose petals in large glass jars of sugar water.
She set the jars on the window sill early in the morning—
They made the most of ordinary light.

In Osaka, sakura yuki. Cherry blossom snow.
That's what I called it.
Walking along the river in the wind and rain—
Cherry blossoms.

At Kibbutz Usha, I killed a snake
On the stoop out back behind the kitchen.
In the middle of peeling and chopping two hundred seventy onions,
My eyes tear-blind and mad with stinging,
I smashed in its skull with a stone.

Night after night...

I think about the former Yugoslavia.
On the spot where Gavrilo Princip took aim and shot,
The impression of a pair of pointy-toed shoes
Is sunk in the sidewalk. Preserved in bronze.
I stood in them. They were just my size.

So many spots where I stood in Kobe
Waiting for all those job interviews, the trains at Sannomiya.
Waiting and watching as Black Vans rolled.

Impossible to not think about the Holy Land.
Tonight another bombing of another bus in Jerusalem...

Somewhere down the street a car backfires.
It startles me. I turn around.

At the beginning of the twenty-first century
the thing that still amazes me
is how easily I startle.