washes over us, re-opens us
_______to greed: bottomless—
endless and overwhelming
_______as a mother’s love—

as milky-white and sustaining
_______as food: call it bread. Dough.
Lucre. Omnipresent and therefore
_______as terrifying as God.

God-like, those steering the ship
_______hover just beyond risk—
their boats silver and white, gold
_______and green. Unbreakable vessels—

while nearby, mere mortals fill
_______with sheer stupefaction, and then
wine turns to vinegar. The seeing
_______grow blind once more. Those

who walked now crawl, while each burn
_______on the sun’s surface cracks open
and rages with a mile-high flame.
_______The waters they steer aren’t murky

like the lead-leached tap water
_______the children try, for years,
to drink. No, those captains
_______sail a sea as silent and clean

as an infant’s room. How peaceful
_______it is, how serene the knowledge
that you’ve done your part. Unflappable
_______employee, we value

your contributions. Surely you
_______don’t know a thing, surely
your hands are pristine even as, now,
_______you leap from the boat. You

part the water cleanly
_______with each stroke, while waves
first open and then close
_______around you—silent wake

as you fight the murderous pull
_______filling the gap with your body—
and all the while, the children remain
_______an abstraction to the men and women

at the mast, turning the controls one way
_______or another; shifting this switch, or that.

Dilruba Ahmed