2021-2022, Poem

They’re Calling It A War

Featured in the 2022 Spring Issue of Rambunctious

They're Calling It A War
Sarah Feng, '22

“They’re calling it a war,”

A war on poverty, a war on drugs,
proverbial, sure, but costly, nonetheless.

The fight against racism, against brutality
(is that an oxymoron?)
Of course it’s important to me, people are dying,

Literal war, across the oceans and continents,
a whole world away and yet my gas bill goes up,
my phone screen is filled with fire and rubble
and my heart is overflowing with grief.

Are you not tired?
Tired of seeing misery everywhere, of weeping
with every new horror that comes with the sunrise?
Is the only way to keep my sanity to turn down the volume
of every demand for justice, every desperate cry for something, anything, please-

Do we choose not to see because a dreadful cruelty has consumed our souls,
or because of the overwhelming love in our hearts?
Do we not feel the pain that’s in the eyes
of every stranger that brushes past us because we can’t bear
to heap the burdens of a broken world
on our already troubled shoulders?

Maybe I seal the doors of my mind with the slow,
careful turn of the key,
a quiet click reverberating into my soul as if to announce,
“she can’t do this anymore.”
Maybe it’s the deafening cacophony of newsreels, chants, my own thoughts
that cause the self-inflicted blindness to the woes of the world.
Maybe it’s an abundance of empathy that leads to ultimate apathy.

Forgive me, I live happily, even during a war, so that I may live at all.