Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Bad News

Bad news today from Utah -- a "lone gunman," as The New York Times had it, killed five in a shooting spree at an historic mall in Salt Lake City.

The scenes, story, and phrases are all the same -- lone gunman, shooting spree, hail of gunfire, no expression; the typical banality of a mall in the evening transformed into something hyper-real by one (obviously) disturbed person. But certain details sometimes get one: like the photo on the front page of CNN.com this morning of a face-up dead girl (it'll probably be gone by the time you read this), or the detail reported in The Times, in which a man who was visiting his wife at the children's clothing store she managed heard the shots, barricaded themselves in the store, and then heard a single police officer shout, "Police! Drop your weapon!" before a volley of gunfire rang out, killing the attacker.

My condolences to all of the victims and their families.

As Adam Zagajewski wrote, in a poem published in The New Yorker the week after 9/11, "Try to praise the mutilated world."

That poem comforted me then; I'll post it here now.

Try To Praise The Mutilated World

Adam Zagajewski

Try to praise the mutilated world.
Remember June's long days,
and wild strawberries, drops of wine, the dew.
The nettles that methodically overgrow
the abandoned homesteads of exiles.
You must praise the mutilated world.
You watched the stylish yachts and ships;
one of them had a long trip ahead of it,
while salty oblivion awaited others.
You've seen the refugees heading nowhere,
you've heard the executioners sing joyfully.
You should praise the mutilated world.
Remember the moments when we were together
in a white room and the curtain fluttered.
Return in thought to the concert where music flared.
You gathered acorns in the park in autumn
and leaves eddied over the earth's scars.
Praise the mutilated world
and the grey feather a thrush lost,
and the gentle light that strays and vanishes
and returns.

Translated by Renata Gorczynski

1 comment:

Joe said...

The photo (or at least one with a dead body lying face up) was still there @ 0755 CST. On the right-hand side of the page was George Washington and Abraham Lincoln doing a little soft-shoe number in some advertisement. Tasteless.