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today’s subject

Last night, my wonderful writing group read Muriel Rukeyser’s poem, I lived in the first century of world wars. And though she wrote about another time and place, we wrote about, thought about, talked about Ukraine. All last night, all this morning, I’ve been wondering over it—the relief of finally speaking about what is happening in our world. How that relief only helps me, but does nothing for anyone in Ukraine. I remembered another moment from yesterday, not spoken of.

Shopping list of what I imagine as necessities
clutched in my hand because the day, every day,
leaves me so frazzled that I can’t remember
to buy broccoli and oranges and milk
without words on paper to remind me

I am halfway across the parking lot when I see him.

Far down at the end, past the liquor store,
way down where the broken wooden fence
separates the crumbling asphalt lot from the cornfield,
Right there, a man is on his knees next to a rusted blue car
Did he drop something?
Is he petting or rescuing some small animal?

In this small town, I don’t recognize for a minute
what I have only seen in theory,
on screens or in cities far from home.
He kneels on a small rug,
facing east towards Mecca,

As I push open the door, I see the cashier watching too.
We don’t speak of it.
Me, because I am afraid to hear what he might say.
Him, because—Who knows? I’ll never know.
So I am again,
left with silence about what I see,
about what happens around me every day.
Maybe all this silence is why I can’t remember
to buy the broccoli
So here I am again, writing it down

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