With a broken-down oven, in a hotel kitchen, on an uninhabited island
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Finally even the winds find themselves bored
with picking through the rubble
and turning up nothing worth keeping.
Whole buildings sprawl on the ground
like men who, grown tired of years of standing
upright, make up their minds
right then, on the street, to crumble
and stay that way forever,
the one choice that can’t be stripped from anyone:
to collapse, buckle under, give up.
People wander the streets because they don’t know how
to live if they aren’t expected somewhere,
or if they don’t have anything
important to do. Right now
it’s breathing. Right now it’s making some sort of sound
they can still bear to hear
rise from their lips, words that make sense
as a girder is lifted off
a crumpled child or they sift through ashes for a missing
brother. This rocking back and forth.
This wailing kept up till it has a life of its own,
until it could almost be a song.
The mouth once more daring the lungs
to deny it this basic right, daring the air
not to fill with what’s flung into it: shrieks, lamentations, curses.
The mind and body still working together
even if they can’t make sense
of what has happened,
making sounds in the throat, singing to a world,
even if the world can’t sing back.