Accident of Birth

At holiday gift exchanges, the doll
in the other child’s box is always more

appealing, with its shiny ponytail and pert
nose, the nip-tucked waist, the cheerleader

outfit and the matching pink plastic Ferrari.
And later, in middle school and high school,

she’ll get to go with some of her class
on the optional field trip to Italy or Paris,

or preselect courses for advanced college credit.
Elsewhere in the world a class of 52 students

shares 1 workbook, 1 makeshift schoolroom
with a dirt floor, 1 box of broken crayons.

I could go on, and I suspect you also could
go on about the argument that states how no one

can be held responsible for what is beyond human
control, since no one chooses the conditions of

one’s birth. At least acknowledge that the field
has never been level: that the work of counting

and ministering to dying bodies is underwritten by prejudice.
Though when you look out the window at the sea, it goes on

as if forever. And in its depths, whole cities have perished,
whole towns have drowned in the wake of tsunamis.


In response to Via Negativa: Outskirts.

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