A Photograph from Vietnam


I see my wife with her camera
Snapping little spiders, grasshoppers
Pride of Japan flowers or even
A little shell from the sea. And we poets
Will make a picture tangible with metaphors
How spiders are supreme architects
Of cobwebs, how grasshoppers are tall pole vaulters
And how the pride of Japan pales
A chrysanthemum and a shell
Is like an earlobe made of little calcium carbonate crystals.
And still there is the fine art of aperture size
Shutter speed in manual setting that a photographer plays with
Until the eye is as steady as a gastropod on grass.
And we wordsmiths too play with
The absurdity of some metaphors
That still give tangibility to a moment in time.

And when Nick Ut photographed a Vietnamese
Girl running away from vapors of Agent Orange
She became the face of an inhuman war
Some words are indescribable
When your conscience runs out of steam
And your eyes are locked in a pool of tears
And that apocalypse of how there were no leaves on trees
No garments on children, empty sedge hats, polluted waters
And a little girl who ran a mile down the road
To a history that will never forget her
Its crazy how easy it was for a herbicide packed
In orange-striped barrels to exfoliate
Limbs, skin, eyes and even something
As precious as life.

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