Processing the News

by Naomi Beth Wakan

She sat in her half acre

and received news on the radio

that a never-before-played

trio by Enesco had been found.

And on TV she heard that

a dictator was about to overturn

another dictator and send

his Evil Empire packing.

Whose evil empire was not

quite clear and so the reverse

seemed as plausible to her.

Her e-mail commanded her to sign

petitions to stop the dictators

doing whatever they were doing,

to rally against bullying in schools,

prevent clitoridectomy in Africa,

protest the treatment of women


And a threat that if she didn’t sign

a good luck letter she would

be cursed with bad luck.

Later her neighbour brought her news

of a woman bitten by her friend’s dog

and another woman by a stranger’s

(dog that is), all in the same week

and on the same little bad-dog island.

Her neighbour also told of some

poor folks who got an inheritance and

bought waterfront and some rich folks

who lost a packet on some deal

and had to move from waterfront

to some dirt track in the interior.

And “Oh!” she said to some of this news,

and “Aaah!” she said to the rest.

In the evening, the book she was reading

informed her that 96% of the universe,

her universe, was made up of unknown stuff,

and that ten parts of her body could now

be replaced at a certain price, and that

she could be cloned in the very near future

if she should wish to be—which she didn’t,

already having a twin and finding that strange enough.

And as she lay in bed at night listening

to JR Country, she learned that she should

be sticking to the true values of flag-waving

and of small towns where the skyscrapers are silos.

As she fell asleep she let the input of the day

swirl any way it might in her head—

the oxymoron of honest politicians, news

of the sex-trade workers in Africa and of AIDS there too,

and of a starlet who had been married three times

and was barely twenty, and of anti-ballistic missiles.

In the morning she got up and, reaching for her silk-

covered journal, wrote:

snow still here

in the half-opened white crocus

a sleeping bee

From Segues, Toronto: Wolsak and Wynn, 2005.