Switzerland, Sri Lanka, Norway, America


At the big box hardware store, in winter,

the houseplants are too large for my pots;

the consumer in me is annoyed.  I am

an American now, after all, and expect

to get what I want, when I want it.


(In Zurich, grocery stores

close by five, so employees

can have dinner with their families.

In Colombo, I went all over the capital

looking for a cell phone battery

on Sunday, with no luck.)


I buy the house plants anyway,

pothos and spider and wandering jew,

bring them home to cut in half

and throw the excess away –


then realize I can repot the remains,

share them with a neighbor.  It will take

some extra effort; there’s no guarantee

they’ll survive.  It seems worth trying, though.


Yesterday, Sri Lanka elected a new president,

the first since the LTTE were defeated.

The Norwegians tried to broker peace, but

it took wholesale slaughter to end the fighting.

Six years since the war in my homeland ended;

now, the knot in my chest has loosened slightly.


What could America do for its neighbors,

with its excess, and with a little extra effort?

What could Sri Lankans do for each other,

if they gave away a little power, a little wealth?


There are never any guarantees.




January 9, 2015