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From Morning Songs: Reading the News

Sitting in my isolated cabin in the woods reading news from around the world on the internet

Yesterday, I read about a bomb that killed

a family in Afghanistan twelve hours ago--

four children, their parents and another man,

a friend, perhaps, or a grand-parent who,

just before their house exploded,

was eating soup, talking, maybe laughing.

In the photograph neighbors standing

in the rubble raise their fists,

a woman holds

her weeping face.

In Darfur I read about the raping

of the women in a village by invading soldiers.

I read about that happening before—

where almost every day—

women are raped,

and hungry people run

but have no place to go.

A flood in India, an earthquake in Bolivia,

tainted milk in China where four children

died—a mother in the photograph

holds her dead baby.

All this came to me yesterday

while sitting at this table, my toast

a little burnt, my coffee getting cold,

the fire in the stove crackling

as it glows and heats this room

while the news from everywhere

comes to my life, my fingers

scrolling down to where I want to go.

I have the choice to be ignorant,

to live here in the woods

like those in other times who

couldn’t know much past their village

or the hills nearby, or where it took

six weeks or more to read a letter sent

with news of this or that,

or to hear about a raging war

that started on the border

months ago, as if it matters now.

I have the choice to live here quietly

with the birds and squirrels

or walk down to my neighbor’s farm

to see his rows of corn and learn

from him the news about the worms

invading there.

It’s easy now to learn about horror

from anywhere—while I sit here

sipping coffee,

looking out my window

at the dawn

and watch the weather coming.

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