Songbirds and nuclear reactors and the horrible beauty of the world

March 14th, 2011

How does one write poems in the middle of something like this? What good, really, are my words now? How do we make the words meaningful in the face of disaster – although, if we are already following the injunction to “write as if you are dying” the words should never be trite, the words would always be weighed against the horrible beauty of the world.

The horrible beauty of the world. I have refilled the bird feeder and the blue tits and the great tits are back, swooping down from the branches of the willow tree, pecking at the feed sticks, flitting away – those bright little song birds I am so happy to have lured to our patio. Meanwhile, entire villages are wrecked and gone – entire villages of the dead and missing. Radiation is leaking out of several reactors – and how does a sentence like that even exist? – leaking poison and here I am watching my songbirds – that’s the horrible beauty of the world, that these two things exist at the same time, that it is our duty to see both of them, to take them both in.

Stare at the horrible images. Watch the songbird out the window. Hold these two things simultaneously in your heart.