Volume 34, Number 2

That Last Part of Pandora’s Gift

Hesiod tells us about a jar the gods gave Pandora 
and I search through my memories for evidence. 
I never saw smoother skin on display 
than in my little brother’s casket, 
barely old enough to drink 
eight years after he smoked his first bowl. 
And I don’t subscribe fully to anyone’s religion,  
but I must concede: Pandora opened her gift. 

And I’ve seen demon marvels the ancient Greeks 
never have. Like fire tornadoes and Frankenstorm Sandy.
Footprints of wickedness of every shape 
are left on those who have been trampled. 
Like a dust-covered five-year-old boy in Aleppo
sitting in an ambulance, 
A few years later, bombs from the same factories 
found a pregnant woman in a hospital in Mariupol
as they leveled that city, too.
A few months after that, the bombs found  
a spot in Dnipro where a dust-covered dog 
would sit on the rubble of his home while his family 
was found in pieces, on the neighbors’ rooftops.
Less than two weeks later, in Kyiv, the most dangerous part 
of crossing the intersection of Volodymyrska Street 
and Shevchenko Boulevard was not the other commuters, 
but one of those missiles, dropping from the sky.
I don’t want to argue with the Greeks, 
but it isn’t a jar. It is a well.

Which makes the search for that last part
of Pandora’s gift all the more important. 
So small and quiet, some days you may miss it 
entirely. I found it for a moment, hiding 
in the photo of a 10-year-old girl from Odesa, 
asleep with her cat in Cloverdale, California, 
reunited by way of five countries and a chain of 
strangers who were tired of feeling helpless. 

—Becky DeVito