Poetry of Provocation and Witness from Split This Rock: Poem # 3

For the Fifty (Who Formed PEACE With Their Bodies)

In the green beginning,
in the morning mist,
they emerge from their chrysalis

of clothes: peel off purses & cells,
slacks & Gap sweats, turtle-
necks & tanks, Tommy’s & Salvation

Army, platforms & clogs,
abandoning bras and lingerie, labels
& names, courtesies & shames,

the emperor’s rhetoric of defense,
laying it down, their child-
stretched or still-taut flesh

giddy in sudden proximity,
onto the cold earth: bodies fetal or supine,
as if come-hithering

or dead, wriggle on the grass to form
the shape of a word yet to come, almost
embarrassing to name: a word

thicker, heavier than the rolled rags
of their bodies seen from a cockpit:
they touch to make

the word they want to become:
it’s difficult to get the news
from our bodies, yet people die each day

for lack of what is found there:
here: the fifty hold, & still
to become a testament, a will,

embody something outside
themselves & themselves: the body,
the dreaming disarmed body.

-Philip Metres

Used by permission.

Philip Metres is the author of numerous books, including To See the Earth (poetry, 2008),Come Together: Imagine Peace (anthology of peace poems, 2008), Behind the Lines: War Resistance Poetry on the American Homefront since 1941 (criticism, 2007).  His poetry has appeared in Best American Poetry and Inclined to Speak: Contemporary Arab American Poetry.  He teaches at John Carroll University in Cleveland, Ohio.  Were it not for Ellis Island, his last name would be Abourjaili.

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