Vox Populi

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Kathleen O’Toole: Starlings (corrected version)

The children swarm outside

the supermarket, arms flailing,

their high-pitched exclamations

surround me, my own arms laden

with groceries. My mind suddenly shifts

to tally one week’s arithmetic of grief:

eighty children among the hundreds killed

in a fine-tuned cone of shrapnel,

three siblings on a Gaza rooftop

before the missile landed, and four

cousins on a beach incinerated

in the time it takes me to close the car door.

Tonight, the trees are full of starlings.

Their racket rising into a delicate

tremolo, like in that Bernstein Sonata

for Violin that stretches the strings

almost to breaking.

Copyright 2019 Kathleen O’Toole

A Murmuration of Starlings

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