Foam scours the sand.
The pulsing lighthouse peers through
clouds like lumpy breasts
hugging the hills.
My sister’s dead of cancer at 52 and I trod
the beach in Australia, burdened
by the glee
of children shouting in Chicago streets
more than forty years before.
I hear the grinding gears of a truck, we weren’t
allowed to follow,
though more than once
my sister joined the throng
of leaping children in the fog of DDT,
and I was dispatched to fetch her,
my stubborn six year old sister,
stomping her feet all the way home.
Splashing in and out of tide pools,
he abruptly turns and stares,
Did God make some men evil?
Or do they just think they are?
Cheeks pink, blue eyes fierce
as only a five year old’s can be
and I want the faith
to assure him,
They just think they are.
Want to cast my lot
in Voltaire’s Best of all possible…
and take Kierkegaard’s leap,
shut my eyes to evidence blathered
in the evening news, trust
the Buddha was right.
The dharma wheel turns.
As above, so below.
I gape at the cold blue and wonder.
Clouds form a lavender mask this morning
with two fiery peep holes for eyes
and just above the horizon, a long slash
of a mouth streaming light.
I’ve never stared into the face of evil, though I’ve read about it
and my imagination’s good.
I’d so much prefer to discount it—
the aberration of a wounded madman
or a fool bereft of empathy
rather than cold, clear logic.
I search within my cells,
from fingernails to grey matter, but
my imagination fails.
Finally, I stop walking and lie face up
in the sand, my palms at rest on my sternum,
feeling my tumbling pulse.
Stop, and really listen
to the churn of the waves, their steady refrain;
And now and now and now…
Laura Jan Shore
Short listed for 2015 Australian Catholic University Prize for Poetry, included in their publication.