The Morning After

The Morning After
by Theodora Goss

Even on the morning after
a great tragedy, the world is still beautiful.
Should it be? I don’t know.

Perhaps after the slaughter, after
the bodies lying in a field, the houses burning,
clouds should no longer continue intermittently
concealing and revealing the sky. Perhaps leaves
should stop turning orange and yellow and red.
Perhaps they too should honor the dead.
But they don’t.

If anything, the world says to us:
my strange, impermanent children,
look at my mountains. Learn to breath, as they do.
Look at my forests, at the trunks of trees that have grown
over a century. Or the grasses, renewed annually.
They live and die, yet are no less important than the rocks.
The moth that lives for a day is as precious
as the tortoise.

Learn to love what you are: a part
of the whole. Do not divide yourself.
Do not think you are alone, or you alone
walk this earth. Wolves slip through the forest
and above you, wild geese are calling.
You are part of the family: let that be
not frightening but reassuring.

This morning, the river will not mourn with you.
It will continue to flow, as it has since before
you were born. But as you memorialize the dead
again, for this has happened before, it will remind you
that beyond strife and sorrow and anger,
the leaves are turning. That it is autumn,
and swallows are preparing
once again to fly south.

(The image is Autumn Landscape by Vincent Van Gogh.)

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