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We Can Make it Beautiful
Gabrielle Gallardo on working towards a better world.
These days, I find myself turning to poetry, both the reading and writing of it. I was never a poet in school, save for the two classes I took that required me to inhabit the mind of a poet. But in this period of global uncertainty, I find myself turning to poetry for solace.
In particular, I turn to Maggie Smith’s poem, “Good Bones.” I like the truth she renders in the poem, the way she seems to read the world clearly for what it is: half-terrible, as if the world were a glass half-full or half-empty.
The world we are in now is in a terrible condition. Even before the pandemic, the world has been in a terrible condition—climate change, wars of aggression, governments failing their people—you can name all the transgressions and circumstances, natural and man-made, that led us to today. And as you name them, they would all fill the glass with a single word over and over—“terrible, terrible, terrible.”
But the world is also half-kind. I believe Maggie Smith knew what she was doing, infusing her poem with both the ills of the world, and hope for it. Every day, I inhabit the online world, and every day, I witness acts of kindness: donation drives, concerts for a cause, on-ground aid by volunteers for underprivileged groups, acts of resistance to the changes imposed on our lives by this pandemic.
Covid-19 isn’t the end of the world. After all of this, we will live—to learn from this, to create better systems that are for the people, with no one left behind. Because if there is anything this pandemic has taught us, it is that we can still change the world. We can, as Maggie Smith writes, make it beautiful.
Gabrielle Gallardo lives and writes in the Philippines.
Maggie Smith was born in 1977. She is the author of three poetry books, her first being Good Bones. She lives and works in Bexley, Ohio.