An early morning, dogs walked,
Time to sit. Read the news.
Enjoy a cup of coffee and listen to the birds sing.
A twenty-two year old woman falls into a coma,
dying later at the hospital.
The police say she suffered a heart attack,
claiming their goal was educational only—
to teach her the proper way to wear hijab.
Now in Iran, women
bravely cut their hair and burn their hijabs
in protest of Mahsa Amini’s death.
I listen to the songs of cardinals
as they come to peck at the seeds from feeders
swinging from tall shepard hooks in my neighbor’s yard.
My hands shake as I lift my coffee cup to my lips.
No power. My hands hold no power. My body holds no power.
No power to help the women of Iran. No power to protect them
from the brutality of the “Morality Police.”
I can not help but think of my own daughter of twenty three,
only a year older, just a year.
A moment of gratitude for her life,
For a moment, a sense of relief
that here in the U.S we have no “Morality Police”
Or “sharia” law— for my daughter’s sake….
But the moment of relief drifts away
on the song the cardinals sing—
We live in the state of Texas,
Which now holds dominion over her body.
My hands shake
Powerless at the moment
Only at the moment.
Power rises as does anger.
The state, the nation, the world counted on fear to make us powerless.
Yet now, injustices kindle the flame of power within us
And nothing can stand against us once we unite.
I wrote this in response to seeing the protests organized by the students who survived the Parkland shooting. I was hopeful that their anger focused in this positive way would bring about some positive change. But today, with 19 elementary school students and 2 adults now dead in Uvalde, Texas, I felt it might be time to revisit this in tribute to the students who have lost their lives in these continual senseless acts of gun violence. We must all say, “No more.”
Innocence, a fairytale idea,
Sacrificed along with safety-
Burned as sweet, bloody incense
On an altar to the Second
The true worship contained
In this strange amalgam
of green and gold,
Gunpowder, lead, and power
Causing some confusion
In steel tongues touting
The sanctity of life
And rights to any guns in prayers.
Our children, now are
Born in a skin of fear,
And do what we have not—
Stand up and say
What we know of words upon a page
Read, learned over again until sated
In the richness found
Then turn to the electronic blue haze
Where even words resonate, echoing fade
For the sweetest lies hate mongers craved
Swoon over one hundred forty plastic flowers
Like the words of a lover’s refrain
Written once too often in wooing others
As cheap plated jewelry’s shine
Turns black in the bitterness
On the day the Mother of Exiles cried
For the words beneath her feet crumbled
And the book she holds nearly fell,
Upon its cover, the date when something pure,
Something of meaning and hope was born
No longer revered, respected, held dear
By those with a need to instill hate and fear.
The Mother raised her head,
Found her footing once again,
Held close her book of law
When she saw the children of her nation arise,
Stand strong against the peddlers of fear
And by their numbers shout a resounding, “NO!”