Aruni Wijesinghe is a project manager, substitute ESL teacher, occasional sous chef and erstwhile belly dance instructor. She holds a BA in English from UCLA, an AA in dance from Cypress College and a certification in TESOL from UC Irvine.
Aruni is an emerging voice in the Los Angeles and Orange County literary communities and has performed her work at various open mics and reading series around Southern California. Her work has been published by Angels Flight – Literary West, Moon Tide Press, Picture Show Press, Shambala Press, Arroyo Seco Press, and elsewhere.
She lives a quiet life in Orange County with her husband Jeff and their cats Jack and Josie.
ALL IS VANITY
after “Basket of Fruits” by Balthasar van der Ast (oil on panel)
“Vanitas vanitatum, dixit Ecclesiastes, vanitas vanitatum et omnia vanitas.”
Where the apple turns away the cheek
riddled with worm holes we choose
to see plenty. Where the housefly tiptoes
the pear, determined to coax the sweet
from mottled skin. Where the paisley curl
of lizard laps the rot, undeterred
by dragonfly whirr
and brush of butterfly wing
because there is no stillness in life.
Because decline is inexorable. Because
the nautilus shell we carry home from the beach
is an empty house, an echo of life
on the sea floor. Because the fructifying seed
also houses decay. Because all is vanity,
we invite Death to the table, place
the brimming cup in his fist of bones.
So we stretch the canvas, load the palette,
pick up the brush. So we embrace
the tabula rasa, though we still can see
imprint of mistakes in the wax. So we become
the worm, the fly, the flicking
lizard tongue feasting on ruin. So we turn
the wheel again, return to ash,
return to seed.
Wonder Woman IN THE LAVANDERIA
after Dulce Pinzon’s photograph “Wonder Woman” from The Real Story of Superheroes series
She constantly adjusts her cape
as she pulls wet jeans
out of an industrial washing machine,
her red knee-high boots
slipping on the soapy tile floor.
These are not her jeans, not her wet load
to carry, but she washes the clothes with care. She
sends one hundred and fifty dollars a week
to family in Puebla, money to pay
school tuition, the electricity bill.
Less Wonder Woman, more woman
wondering how big the next load
of wash, how many hours
in the lavandería translates to a new roof
for her house across the border,
a roof for before the rains come.
At home, clothes are washed by hand,
dried in the sun. The breeze blows hope
into each shirt, the sleeves waving at her
across thousands of miles of fence and sand,
beckoning her to return soon.