– With lines from Audre Lorde
Mid-sentence your mother grabs my hand,
thrusts it low and fierce against her abdomen
and holds it there. We stop our talk of war
and politics, of the difference between poetry
and rhetoric. Her blood insists beneath
my fingers. Is being ready to kill a pre-req
to enlist, hardwired into trigger fingers?
I try to pull away but she pushes further,
rooting out your home, yourself. It must hurt
her some, and you. Rhetoric is your words
instead of your children. We read the news
and then press on. It must feel like your ceiling’s
falling in. Finally you punch against it.
My eyes flare, your mom’s hand lifts.
We study one another’s faces, pushing past
our surfaces to sense if, underneath, we’re ready.
First published in Event #54/3.