Considering the anniversary of women’s suffrage in the United States at this moment I was reminded to return to Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s “I Am Waiting,” which returned me to the hope that inspired this response, this love note to America, for an occasion somewhere between Last Rites and Baptism.
We were sorting the Grapes of Wrath,
waiting for the shift to be done.
Our unrest was everywhere:
flags and chanting; paint and the piercing
of swords into the flesh at the sides of sworn enemies.
When was our Last Supper, and when would it return?
Wonder, we looked for you everywhere, waiting for our numbers
to be called.
The whales waited elsewhere,
bleeding oceans back into their ears;
do they hear each other through the current of it?
We wanted to know
what they’d been saying all along
after hellos and we wanted to lie down again
––the lovers, the weepers, the dreamers,
across the Great Divide, our bodies bridges
for the feet that could not believe
unless they stepped across us,
unless they put their hands in the wounds
of their feet in our backs, back to the Lost Continent
they’d been trained to disbelieve America,
we were waiting for your music for so long
that when you hobbled back to the Dark Tower
your intimations of immortality bleeding out
from stray bullet wounds, your torch arm falling
slack, we couldn’t help ourselves America,
we circled you, we circled ourselves no one
was looking, but we were there; we stood up,
our single bodies no longer the bridge
it was our hands Now we held
them the shape of us unfastened
from the overpass ––still, we held, some
of us even though the gaps
of our form were widening
our collective path an open mouth.
Eye, be on your sparrow now. Watch us
as we stand before ourselves