Arsenal

By Elmaz Abinader

We don’t need thunder, might, or the conversion of galaxies to withstand —
if anything we are armed with fists, conscience, rocks, history, and backs like hemp

Warfare drives us into an insistent fog, cold and frequent, a churning in the belly–
drives us to link, chain a curtain, thatch a roof; braid vines into electrical cords

Our skirts are shredded into tourniquets; clog arteries resolute on lava, tidal wave–
Rocks crack like pumpkin seeds between our teeth, even in empty mouths.

It’s nothing for women who cradle little ones between curtains of incursion–
we have birthed more than one dead son, brother, hostage, girl, flower, stone.

Forts have been built of silk and cement, each hand laying brick upon brick.
The years pass, the beds sag aloneness; graves are hollowed right below the breastbone

We are our own weapons: waiting hardens the calves, teaches us how to move–
phrases are formed and we mouth ancient stories but nothing

as remarkable as this preservation of life when death lurks. The sergeant asking
questions through the crack in the door our bodies are pressed upon

These days are not remembered, no names are evoked; our shadows slide
down the wall unnoticed
We are seismic in our keening, this song, a story, told in whispers, starving ourselves of breath.