A Call to Arms

Vievee Francis

came as the lanterns floated upward

on a night of celebration, and as flares spun upward out of the fear

of those who set them; as shawled women smiled in the night,

prayed into the night, and just as many ran through the swallowing

night; as a bed was shared between two committed to shepherding each other,

and as others committed themselves to harm;

as doctors took their hypocritical oaths, as dentists clenched their own teeth;

as a young woman was killed by an angry man, a stranger, because he was

and remains angry at his mother, his life, and the opportunities he let go

and blamed others for the loss.

I am telling you the call to arms came as we slept

and as we marched, and as we questioned and as we hid

our heads in the dust of nostalgia or our spent dreams

of a future, and as bills were repealed, and as debt grew and values diminished,

as women decided other women mattered less; and the doors began to close

and close and close and close and close and those who had opened them

were marked for what we refuse to imagine or acknowledge (though this is not the first time).

And I heard the call to arms like a moan from a drain, desperately

clogged, like the lowing of cows in drought, like the impotent drone of governors

and the great blather of Senates questioning the hours without answer, and

no one satisfied by the moment. This moment. I hear the call and realize

I am not the rider but the fox,

that I must resort to my feet and my wits amid a storm of hooves

on a day that began as any other day, and I can’t tell you why

I hear what you refuse to hear or won't admit

like the pounding of your own heart upon hearing this.

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