The Evening News

During a leisurely dinner
between the sweet potatoes
and the new blond Bond
my throat constricts
with a tightening grip of sadness

200,000 lost in Guatemala?
Yes, I think that’s what they said…
In Pakistan now, 2 million without homes?
How many dead?

In Southern Africa, along the Eastern Coast, 12 million
– Yes that’s what they said!
12 million people prepare for starvation!
They call for help while eking out a subsistence living
Peasant farmers on a parched land
set up blogs, send frantic e-mails
to let the world know
they will soon die without our help
Hoping this new technology will save them
cross oceans and whole continents on their behalf
like winged messengers to convey
their desperation

Now tonight
their story is again being told
And once again, seemingly hopeless…
But why?

And wasn’t that Korea underwater, not so long ago?
Japan, in the desperate search for survivors after an earthquake?
Flooding in my beloved Eastern Europe?
No!… we are still trembling from the losses in South East Asia!!

Gone in a heartbeat
the father they all needed and grieve so deeply
the mother who loved them like no other
the child with all the promises of future
The wisdom and greatness we hoped for them
Family, friends
…lives broken, scattered
Homes washed away

I add up all these lives
Precious, beyond comprehension
and must not miss a single one
As though my accounting will save them

Then add to them, New Orleans
and Southern India
Like some incantation I must get exactly right
In a prayer without an answer

Vancouver, October 12th, 2005