The Compass by Julian Matthews

The Compass

Tears are an ancient compass
constantly pointing south
for the Sabina Nessas of the world:
Muslim, Brown, South Asian descent,
and for the 700 indigenous women missing—
from the same area Gabby Petito was found

Tears are an ancient compass but
N-E-W-S without the N is only ews to you
Your compass is a screen coloured with your flighty bias
You are not lost—just feathering your nest with your fears
Your needle is magnetized by “influencers” who flock together
and never fly south,
nor east nor west,
every winter of our lives—
as if we even needed a winter to remind us
of all the seasons of killing

Our tears are an ancient compass
the tracks of which
lead to an ocean that will never wet the cheek
of you

Your compass is broken.

by Julian Matthews
(from the prompt “Tears are an ancient compass” from Taylor Mali’s @metaphor_dice broadcast on IG)

Editor’s note: Metaphor, enjambment, and unexpected punctuation keep the reader off balance in this poem, emphasizing the underlying theme of grief/horror quite well.


2 responses to “The Compass by Julian Matthews”

  1. Olivia Avatar

    Thank you for sharing!

  2. Catherine Avatar

    It’s sad, but so true. While I don’t begrudge any of concern for Gabby Petito, I seriously doubt it would be the same if she hadn’t been white and attractive. Thank you for the reminder.

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