we go through life now like an american

we go through life now like an american
walking through karachi
with every waif and orphan tugging
at our sleeve and slipping nimble fingers
into our pockets and whining in thin
starving voices that cannot be silenced
these demands on our time and our attention
never, ever cease and we defer the one
and try to ignore the other and they pile on pile
around us until they tower over us
arms reaching, eyes beseeching and we claim
we cannot serve the one without serving all
we cannot save the one without dooming him
forever and the crowd around us deepens
the buzz grows louder and here is a giant Jenga
of the undone and here is a giant Jenga
of the unserved and here is a giant Jenga
of the unintended consequence—
all we ever really wanted was a tranquil moment
to gather our thoughts and take a breath
in a place so quiet we might just detect
the feathery beat of a fawn’s heart
in the distant wood.

—Don Whittington

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