The Compassion Anthology is a beautiful collection of writing about disasters, refugees, loss. I find it both uplifting and inspiring. I’m honored to have one of my poems included in the latest edition. Please read below:
Where did the tortoise go when the winds blew? Did he pull his scaly head inside his shell and ride it out?
Where did the tortoise go when the rains came? Did he get plunged down the ravine like a life-less stone?
When the dock sank, when the church lost its roof, when the porch of the market was sucked into the salt pond…
Where was the tortoise?
Did he dig down into the earth itself, his mouth bloated with mud, his small heart nesting against the roots of the baobab?
Afterwards, no one thought about him. Not at first.
Not when there were men stunned and peeing their khaki shorts, women wandering
in circles, twisting their hair, unable to speak.
Not even later when folks began making their way through the jungle of downed
wires, splintered shutters, hijacked hulls. Now and then coming upon surprises.
A toy bear, soggy, but recognizable. A wedding dress, its lace intact. A bottle of Heineken, unbroken.
But where was the tortoise?
No one knew. No one cared.
And then, in time, everyone lining up like dung beetles, seeking water, signals, familiar faces, those chalky packets of Red Cross food, ever-welcome, even so.
And little by little, a carapace of the old life emerged from the rubble, and the tortoise emerged too.
He was last seen crawling along the Coral Bay Road, his house on his back. Slow as usual, but undeterred.
You might also like to check out the CHARTER FOR COMPASSION with which this anthology is affiliated. This is a document which urges the peoples and religions of the world to embrace the core value of compassion, inspired by Karen Armstrong, the writer and religious scholar.http://www/charterforcompassion.org It is available in thirty languages and embraces forty-five countries around the world.