Poetry / June 2012 (Issue 17)

Everything Is

by Aye Wollam

Burma, August 1988
Everything is politics, she says.
Like breathing and reading, cooking and dancing,
praying and singing out loud in the streets.

Everything is politics, I repeat.
Like passing out flyers at the bus stations,
reading a newspaper printed from an old press
concealed in the garage of an eighty-year-old patriot.
Like turning on the light switch and end up sitting in the dark;
hearing your mother mutter, "It's ration time again."

Everything is politics, the dog howls at eight
to the only evening news in the country,
read by a stern faced state employee.

Crush all internal and external destructive elements as the common enemy, she says.

Grandma walks by the television, ignites the wood stove,
and unscrews the plastic jug where the orange recycled cooking oil
sloshes back and forth. She decants a trickle in the pan, swirls it
like a crop circle, and squints at the moon and says, Everything is politics.

My father breathes through his nose, and coughs up the air
trapped in his lungs, listens to the walls echoing the roar of
the megaphone blaring from the passing trucks.

We have orders to shoot on sight, if you are found outside between six and six.

Sitting cross-leg on the bamboo mat, we slap our arms, legs and air,
in search of the bugs hovering above our flesh, mumble quietly to each other
that everything is politics.
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