When I google Turkey earthquake photos, I find a man sitting amidst broken concrete slabs, holding the hand of his daughter, her body sandwiched between mattress and pancaked upper floors. Her hand is smooth and white, spared from the broken and slid. Her palm is open— an invitation. The pink sheet too spills off the bed, the way she’d slide off each morning, sleepy-eyed, following smells into the kitchen, her chair across from his. His other hand is in his pocket. Men dig around him with bare hands. His stare barely touches upon their movements, the sunsets and sunrises that will come and go.
I zoom into his vacant stare. And I am sixteen, with too many theater friends piled in my car. We sit at a red light in awe of the pink and orange sunset silhouetting the mall. In the next lane, a woman stares ahead, unsmiling, haggard. We bang on our windows and yell until she hears our muted cries through glass and turns, confused, awakened. We wildly point and shout Look. At. The. Sunset! until she understands. And when she sees it, she smiles. We pulse with victory, changing the world one soul-less adult at a time! All the empties that walk the earth— those who’ve forgotten to notice.
Caroline N. Simpson’s chapbook, Choose Your Own Adventures and Other Poems, was published by Finishing Line Press in 2018. In 2020, Delaware Division of Arts awarded Caroline an Established Artist Fellowship in Poetry, and she has been nominated several times for a Pushcart Prize in both poetry and nonfiction. carolinensimpson.com