Karen An-hwei Lee

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A LESSON IN THE GARDEN, OR A SEASIDE DYSTOPIA CONFESSES UNREQUITED LOVE AND WAR

 

Dear America,

 

You cannot see the war from this seaside garden –  
                        yet each one draws nigh: a swelling tide                                                                       of algal biofuel and God.
By night, the mantle of a ruined world glows in its flaming, cavernous heart.
By noon, a glow-torch bougainvillea
                                                        dies in the arms of winter, then regenerates
in the spring.  A gardener, whose son returned from the war, plants
                                               a single non-fruiting olive,

                                     virginal in its fire resistance, serene in its immunity
to xenophobia and famine alike.  Is it not a waste to fight what attacks over
               and over, a terminal disease, a relentless vector of hate?
The gardener says, this war, too, is my ravaged son: One small moment in history
                               is the desolation of centuries
                                                                                       of unwitnessed violence.  

               The one who goes to war,
                                               and one who instigates war,
                               in the end, are one
                               and the same: the same one who dies, one way
                                                               or another. Aliquid stat pro aliquo
                                                   something stands
                                                                               for something else.

 

Photo Credit: Lexi Clarke

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