"Chivvying the Children Across"

A poem about visiting my grandchildren--
what I never expected when I was "coming out"
as a lesbian mother over thirty years ago! and
a poem about holding onto our children's hands
(and minds) in the face of "Homeland Security"
and the new terrible attacks on immigrant workers
in Arizona:

In line for the up-north bus, just left the children,
the next little ones, asleep from our gallivant
to yesterday’s park, their father running, hands
out-stretched over them across four asphalt lanes
the cars in wait, purring. My in-line neighbors
visit in creole French, Arabic, Spanish, the Latina
ahead, arms crossed, has knee-high, shoulder-high
girls, and another tall as her, arms-crossed, apart,
who comes up silent at the last minute to pull
the heavy luggage as we board. The bus driver asks
them extra questions, the two oldest mouths fenced
against the wrong answers. I eye-skim the waiting
room, who’s there, corner glimpse, crimp of a woman’s
hat or hair, top-knotted, nodding, and that or the spring
rain runs me back to looking across our yard, fugitive
beauty, something more than my life, breaks across
the grass, a quail hen chivvying her tiny covey fast,
her feathered curl, frail wisp of question on her head.
Holding Mae in my arms, her little feet beating to get
down, I can walk! I can carry! What we’re doing is
more than silhouettes pasted on a SUV rear window,
the fictional normal family tally, more than the state’s
danger road sign, man woman child hand-in-hand,
running at the southern border. Holding Alden’s hand
as he tightropes on the fallen tree limb, him slipping
again, again his fingers almost twisting from my grasp.

Minnie Bruce Pratt

Attribution-Non-Commercial-No Derivs
Creative Commons 2010

No comments:

Post a Comment