Dis ease hit all poets simultaneously.
Perhaps, we thought, the cure was writing depressing
poetry so no one could think we were untouched.
Though we did little else. We couldn’t imagine
what else to do beyond words, letters and protests—
that is, not until Orca whales carried their dead.
Carried their dead for days and weeks and maybe years,
carried them so everyone could see, like open
coffins forever, saying, See? We won’t keep this
out of sight. Look. Look at my calf. Look at your crimes.
See my community carry me when I’m tired.
And then it came to us: We could carry objects
more real than metaphor and signs. We could carry
our dead outside our laden emotions. We could
sanctuary and caravan, though we’ve lost
very little—not yet—but when the poor are gone
and the powerless fall silent, who will be next?
This is an old song, one the whales are carrying.
Songs without words. Living beings objectified.
Let’s lift up death. Refuse to bury it. Insist
on sight and smell. Press home. Ease on down the road.
We don't want wizards We want hearts, minds and courage.
|Dorothy meets the Cowardly Lion,|
from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz , first edition.
Illustration by W.W. Denslow (d. 1915)
You'll note the allusion to Emmett Till!
My blog poems are rough drafts.
Please respect my copyright.
© 2018 Susan L. Chast