Shaken


My friend E.J. writes me from Turkey
after the second quake.
The earth, she says, is a big glass egg
teetering on a crumbling wall
and given that, there will always
be surprises.
This time, she's been lucky though,
only her knees have suffered, she adds,
a bit bruised and tender
from all that praying


Later, I understand what she was saying - -
that you cannot count on anything.
I think about her walking down
some dusty street in Istanbul,
an atheist 'til the sidewalk shattered,
'til her world fell into a wound
as deep as a grave.
One minute there is something to stand on,
and the next, it is gone.
There is a tearing sound, a splitting,
then a void.
You gaze across the fissure and
make guesses at the distance
between before and after,
knowing all the while it can't be measured,
and hoping there's a king
to send in horses...
- Linda Elliott 1999

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