Exiting the Trenches

We’ve been under house arrest for days,
our gray-cloaked jailers, wispy-haired,
roll their heavy carts overhead,
jangling their keys, making sparks
that blind our dark-adjusted eyes.

We’ve taken shelter,
put out pots to catch the roof leaks,
battened door and window sills with terry towels,
lit our few candles during the outages,
prayed for the crops, highways and hillsides.

Mostly we endured, stiff upper lip,
here in the flooded trenches,
wet shoes growing mold,
damp towels lying about

I know this stance, hunkered in place, beast-like,
waiting for dark, cold, Covid and rain to stop.
I stood exactly that way until my father ran out
of sharp words and my mother of curses,
until my exes ran out of insults,
bosses of complaints.

Shoulders hunched and neck bowed,
protecting my head and heart from hurt,
my body became clenched stone, my mind a wall,
standing through the years
like the moai on Easter Island,
permanently guarding vanished villages.

In the light from yesterday’s storm flashes,
wakened from my stony watch, I saw that
nothing could pass my defenses,
not even a blessing, a fresh breath, a good taste.

Whispers from those dead in the trenches
warned that a proper defense
prevents all reception of gifts–
remember Troy?

Now I am up and out of the sheltering stance,
as the sun glances off dikes and ramparts,
barricades and ditches.
Cracks spread top to bottom,
granite crumbles and falls away
as I stretch numb limbs to the sky–
asking, thanking,

© 2021 Susanne Donoghue