Aruni Wijesinghe
February 2020

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.”

 - Ecclesiastes1:2

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.

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