Thursday, January 1, 2004

Schrodinger's Newspaper

I push open the creaky screen door,
and stoop down to pick it up,
because I must know.
It comes rolled up with the headlines inside,
a fortune cookie stuffed with misfortunes.
Crack it open, and suffering will spill out.

I hesitate. Until I smooth the paper flat,
tyrant and victim hover, suspended.
Until I read, the bullet hasn’t left the gun,
the hammer hasn’t hit the skull,
the suicide bomber hasn’t pushed the button.
The nails and gunpowder will stay
packed tight in their satchel under the shirt.
The girl in the market will stand forever
with her hand on the melon, smiling.

The odds are clear. Death will take his share
and not be cheated. I open and read. I ache,
knowing what I can’t stop, what already is.
And yet, every morning
my front steps are still here. My screen door,
the wet grass, the neighbor’s cat, still here.
The rolled baton of newsprint on the step
is cool proof that the presses ran all night
in that big building downtown, also still here.

Cheryl Gatling

published at

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