The time of a president who was a volcano, a Vesuvius, a blast of smothering ash, our corpses caught in pose of flight or futile prayer. Lies, those sharp boulders airborne, sailing like swallows, crashing into living rooms lit with exhausted blue twilight on a day stumbling under an anvil of disbelief. Tell your children we will not create those scenes again. Let it be true. Let fossilized jawbones chatter of what humanity learned, the deepest lessons of being human, of love. We will not be splintered into kindling, fed to a devouring mouth.
Inside the quietest chamber of our heart, we suspect hope is made of string, a dream muffled between layers of lace and organza but we’d rather know it is real, a precious thing held in our hands, a small bird, waiting, fixing us with its steady eye, trusting. Say to your children we learned our lesson. Our faces are not Pompeii, not gray masks marking agony, eyes without light.
You learned young. That cousin’s grasping hands. That uncle’s shotgun and bourbon days, the panicked aunt and little cousins sheltered at your house.
When the doctor asks what happened to your face, forget about collision with cabinet door; everyone knows that’s code. Don’t keep the secret; shame the man who isn’t a man and run, run for your car, then floor it for open highway. Remember, you are so much stronger than Lot’s wife. Don’t, do not look back.
Peggy Hammond’s recent poems appear or are forthcoming in The Blue Mountain Review, Sangam Literary Magazine, Crosswinds Poetry Journal, Pangyrus, Burningword Literary Journal, The Hyacinth Review, Thimble Literary Magazine, and elsewhere. A Best of the Net nominee, her chapbook The Fifth House Tilts is due out fall 2022 (Kelsay Books). Learn more at https://peggyhammondpoetry.com/
A Song for Peggy