Memorial Day Again and Again and Again, May 2022
—in recollection of “When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d”
by Walt Whitman and “I’m Explaining a Few Things” by Pablo Neruda
Four days ago another nineteen children died when
a gunman opened fire at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.
Say it. Say it again and again. And again. Welcome
another Memorial Day. We’ve been commemorating this country’s dead
soldiers ever since the U.S. Civil War—Decoration Day, they called it then—
and now Walt Whitman stands again here in this poem and there in that
lilac-bush tall-growing with heart-shaped leaves of rich green
in full euphoria against my neighbor’s white fence and the mallards
and herons, nighthawks, grackles, red-winged blackbirds, swallows
and mourning doves are euphoric spirits like all beings are spirits,
like we would like to be euphoric because it’s spring
but instead we mourn again
and yet shall mourn with ever-returning spring.
Again and again.
How many and what will it take and when when when will it stop—
the shed blood, the blood. Look. Witness again and again.
And again—the blood of the children ran simply, like children’s blood.
And so this evening’s riot of feathered dinosaurs made of stardust
sailing and juking in six directions
across the delicious evening sky shall be my
lilac and star and bird twined with the chant of my soul
sorrowing, weeping, lamenting, mourning, grieving and wailing
again. And again. And again.
Tracy on Facebook
Editor’s note: This powerful lament pieces together pain and grief and anger and tattoos them onto enjambment and repetition and stark truth with a skillful voice that reflects all our voices.
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