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Gray light, tideline low and distant,
and I’m reading from a morning public forum
words posted by a woman I knew once, decades ago,
who, trusting a neighbor, has left behind
two cats and a blind dog, secure, she hopes,
in a basement with food and water, has left behind
her library and two decades of files, has forgotten
her second boots but not underwear, nor her coat,
nor socks. She flees the lottery of slaughter.
She writes that she travels by car, then on foot,
then by car again, each time driven by friends,
or friends of friends, or by strangers, each kilometer
that much safer, for on her old neighborhood,
on her old city she yet calls her own, bombs
explode in streets, on rooftops, through windows,
doorways. Statues have toppled. On one sidewalk
a human arm and hand softened
as it collected new snow – she has seen this.
In nine days she has not slept one night through –
the bombing irregular, meant to disrupt.
I look up. Tide incoming, and the coffee I made
has gone cold in this unbroken mug, as I think
on what she and her country teach me.
Copyright 2022 Lex Runciman
Lex Runciman is the author of six books of poems, including Salt Moons: Poems 1981-2016, published by Salmon Poetry, winner of the Silcox Prize. He lives in Portland, Oregon.