These urgent dawns call me from sleep
as if each message bore repeating
day after day. My dreams have fled,
slipped beneath the window sill and night,
recalled, perhaps to heaven,
by a voice that says, "You do not listen."
Tell me, now that I'm aware,
watching the color coral mount the sky
as silent as flamingos lifting off,
is there ever cause for shame?
I have at times
taken my life in my teeth like a knife
and proceeded to climb over voices and graves,
my name, Don't-tread-on-me.
(I would laugh at my proud posturing,
were it not for the tragic theme. )
Should we then fade instead
into the atmosphere like stars
effaced by the noon-day sun, letting injustice
run its ugly gamut in our lives? How apply
the ineffable power of baring the throat--
custom of wolves overcome by stronger foe
ingenuously disarming the fatal blow?
Can we find that third ground
buried under the debris of our wars?
--the foolishness to stand, to stretch out our arms
and be lifted up through pain
into resurrection faith,
confounding the enemy with Truth
and the silence of our death.
Gretchen Sousa worked among the indigenous people from Oaxaca who live in migrant worker camps in Baja California, Mexico, when this poem appeared. She has written three books of poetry.