79 Declaring Eminent Domain… by Martha Deed

79 Declaring Eminent Domain and Building Empathy
in a Land where Actual War is Far Away

The governor takes your Dad’s house,
plus dozens more, elms, auto shop,
roads and general store to build a cloverleaf.
The rent controlled apartment you barely can afford
will soon convert to condominiums, the notice says,
but do not be afraid. You will get the insider’s price
(which you cannot afford) or be evicted at your death
or sooner if we like. Life stops in that moment.
Peace on hold while lawyers and rent strikers fight
the plan to death or to a truce. And when your ex
crosses state lines with our toddler, says he’ll remain
abroad until you apologize for not packing enough
underpants ‒ Oh! ‒ Plus give up custody, See her
only when he decides ‒ Oh! ‒ or he will park
her precious body in France (which he later did).
Yes, like that. Like chest pains while shoveling
snow. Ominous. The small wars of everyday life
make real the big one in Ukraine. Unstoppable
bully demanding custody of what is not his
to seize ‒ Oh! ‒ if we have any sense at all
we know that recognition of life’s fragility,
how important it is to save our homes,
our children and our country no matter what
the cost, no matter if we are left unaided
to fight for future peace. And we know as well
that not all survival battles are won against invaders.
Snow fell overnight.
I get chest pain when I shovel.

by Martha Deed

Editor’s Note: Life is unbearably fragile in the face of war.

Photograph by Christine Klocek-Lim