In Case of post-election emergency


by Sandra Yannone

 

The green, translucent bottle

                              glistened                                    

                 in the sunlight

                                     as it careened

past my left ear,

                       then shattered

                              on the asphalt,

                     scattering

                              like mice under siege

by the neighborhood cat

                              or a jigsaw puzzle

                 falling

                              from its fallible box.

The glass bottle

                              that broken afternoon

                    on my driveway

                                        in Lincoln, Nebraska

somehow broke

                                        into me.

You could shake me

                                       for years

                      like a dropped thermos

                hear

                     the percussive

internal

               bleeding

                     and discern that those scars

               doubled once

as entry wounds

                              ushering that day

into my DNA

                forever.

                              And yet how soon

I forgot

               that the glass was still there

                              burrowed inside me

as I keep

               shaking today, the illusion

that the mercury

                              was dropping its red

                spiked delirium

                              to quell my fevered

American heart.

I’d rather the county

                put one of its outlaw guns

                              to my head

                                             and pull

                the trigger

                                   than lever after lever

behind a pleated, plastic curtain,

                              all that election-night red

                on the map

                              screened through

my bloodshot eyes

                 when I told my body

never to let me

                              bleed like that again.

And I regret that I can’t

                   keep my pledge of allegiance.

And I regret that any rope

                              cast my way

                   slithers

                              through my hands, burning

red rivers like the poisonous

                                         black snake

                              that bores through North Dakota

threatening

                   the land’s indigenous skin

                              and ancestral prayers.

And where am I now?

                 I can’t find the one I love

                              in a crowded hall

                 when I most need a head

to land

                  on my shoulder –

                              not a head

riddled with bullets,

                  dead and unthinking,

not one or forty-nine

                  blindsided at an Orlando dance

club in June,

                              not one or too many

                  and counting

slabbed in county morgues

                              with police bullets lodged

in their backs.

                              The weight of these dead

                   is too much

                              for my shoulder.

And isn’t this irrational?

                              And isn’t this

                   granting a grand gift

                                                         to fear?

And now she

                              who staunched

                   my bleeding

may feel the cold-case need

                              to stay away

from my bed.

                   And now any hand I extend

to invite her closer

                              feels nullified

                   by sixty-million pairs of eyes.

They boycott my sequels.

                              They steal

                   my lunch money.

They break

                  my Partridge Family thermos

                              in the back of the bus.

And so what if all this

                              sounds

                  like overblown despair?

If I can’t kiss my way

                  to shatter the glass sky

without having

                              the neighborhood kid

                 throw a soda bottle at my head,

if I can’t criss-cross

                              every inch of this county

                 that is her body,

                              if I fear the loss

of that freedom in broad

                  strokes of daylight,

             then let me be

clear:

             despair it is.

                              But despair is just

one bus stop

               on this long ride home. And

                              I won’t stay

shattered here

                              for long.

 

Created: November 11, 2016

Age: 52

State: Washington

 

Sandra Yannone grew up on the coast of Connecticut with a daily view of Long Island Sound. Her poetry and book reviews have appeared in numerous journals including Ploughshares, Prairie Schooner, The Gay and Lesbian Review (Worldwide), Women’s Review of Books, Calyx, and Lambda Book Report. Her poem “Requiem for Orlando” was featured in the August 2017 special issue of Glass: A Poetry Journal responding to the Pulse nightclub shootings. Currently, she is Member of the Faculty and directs the Writing Center at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, WA.