Tuesday, July 28, 2009

On the Front Line

On the Front Line

(For Helen Klonaris, Marion Bethel, and all the faculty and students of the first Bahamas Summer Writers Institute: Thank you for reminding me.)

I am a Feminist
on the front line.
this concrete cottage
in the declining hood,
this living room
strewn with baby and toys,
is headquarters
for the movement
toward my ultimate

My daughter wakes me
at 4.30 am
I give her
my breast
in the darkness
my fingers smelling
like onions,
she nurses,
looking me
in the eye,
asking, how will we
proceed today,

coffee for me
when you go back
to sleep,
I tell her
in whispers,
and a poem
a new verse
for the battle hymn
of the republic
of motherhood
free from poverty,
the empty pocket,
the blood-sucked soul.

barney and friends,
moose a. moose,
dora the explorer,
they are our closest
when the sun
cuts open the sky
with his yellow
our position.
our alliance
is crucial
to the success
of the resistance.
she smiles,
she screams,
she stares,
asking, can you
show me, mother,
how happiness

our joy
taken in
the enormity
of the miniscule
is the heart
of the struggle,
fresh blood
to my hands
lifting her
to the window,
to my voice
look Pyper,
you’re flying!
to her soul
growing here
in beautiful defiance.

I poke the yellow caterpillar
in the belly,
she sings Vivaldi’s Spring.
my girl chews
on her yellow head
with skyward eyes.
when she sleeps
I will write and call it victory.
I will guard her bed and call it peace.

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