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Meredith Stricker
Paradise — a thin line


 Every morning opening the newspaper, I am faced
 with the thin line that divides disaster and deprivation
 from a world of luminous wealth. Tuesday, January 29th,
 for instance, bodies, many of them children, lie on the ground.
 They drowned in the canal trying to escape a weapons depot fire
 and explosion in Lagos. Their heads are twisted in straw and dust
 near the feet of wailing on-lookers. And across two thin-as-breath
 lines: a cocktail shaker, the same size as a body in the foreground,
 gleams quietly for $950 in stenciled silver, reflecting nothing
 in its lucent surface, a vast unclaimed territory full of minerals,
 wide open for our projections of luxe, tradition, glamorous
 occasions. I have learned to compartmentalize, to mentalize.
 I can tell the silver shaker is beautiful, in its way,
 but to see it glisten there separately, something strange
 has to happen to my sight. There are bodies on the ground,
 there is a pristine cocktail shaker and two infinitely thin,
 poignant lines. The cocktail shaker levitates to the foreground.
 It is untouched by the chaos, the loss, the weeping, the wet bodies,
 the smoldering munitions. Heaven, I believe, would restore
 our sight. Earthly paradise would dissolve the lines.



 Heaven is not a gated community. Silver is covered with mud.
 Mud is covered with silver. The wounded are cared for, are made
 whole. The dead are washed and mourned. We would leave
 nothing out. Not one atom of existence is outcast.

 “Parts of the canal were blanketed with water hyacinths.
 A woman’s pink shoe, a baby’s slipper and a bright orange
 and red skirt floated among the plants.”

 This is earth. This is paradise — how one grain of paradise looks
 on a day in January. We are its eyes.




Meredith Stricker is the author of Alphabet Theater, a collection of performance poetry from Wesleyan, and Tenderness Shore through the National Poetry Series. In visual art and poetry, she is interested in the cusp of language and drawing.