Diameter

A haunting poem to read in these times when bombing in foreign lands is a daily headline, beating a familiar rhythm across the daily news. Millions outraged by Janet Jackson’s breast on TV, but the beat goes on virtually unnoticed.

“The Diameter of the Bomb”

The diameter of the bomb was thirty centimeters
and the diameter of its effective range about seven meters,
with four dead and eleven wounded.
And around these, in a larger circle
of pain and time, two hospitals are scattered
and one graveyard. But the young woman
who was buried in the city she came from,
at a distance of more than a hundred kilometers,
enlarges the circle considerably,
and the solitary man mourning her death
at the distant shores of a country far across the sea
includes the entire world in the circle.
And I won’t even mention the crying of orphans
that reaches up to the throne of God and
beyond, making
a circle with no end and no God.

— Yehuda Amichai
(translated by Chana Bloch)

Suffering has its own degrees of separation. Its own diameter. How long can we maintain the illusion of being beyond its reach?

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