Evening News

from Acts of God


All disasters look the same:
scattered bones of house,
blackened, anonymous
shards of darkened glass.

This house any house:
each fallen beam, each piece
of frame, each missing windowpane
scene to scene, the same.

The camera frames a child’s skate,
leather blistered like skin,
the only thing left
that looks like anything.

The men, grimed as miners,
could be anyone, driven
by donuts and black coffee.
The renters, bewildered as birds,
are everyone’s babysitters.

The news has eyes, but only eyes
and the same few words, used
over and over:
rubble     matchsticks    missing.

To the rest it is blind—
to the work behind the brick façade,
the flagstone walk,
the dahlias, trampled brown—
to the stories within things,
everything they owned a gift
or bought with their time.

All the camera doesn’t know:
you don’t smell smoke, you taste it—
taste the dust of fallen plaster,
taste the gas you hear escaping.

All disasters look the same
unless they are yours.
Unless it is you, scrabbling
among the ashes for a plate, a picture, a bit of vase.

Unless it is your sweaty face
stunned by the camera.
Your skate.
Your house.
Your next of kin.


Roz Spafford


“Evening News” is the first section of “Acts of God,” published in Requiem, 2008.