What I Have Learned About Powerlessness

What I Have Learned about Powerlessnesss

What I have learned about powerlessness
is that sometimes it drives me to make soup and give it to my neighbors

Minute by minute I grasp hope, then despair
like finger-thin boughs that bend, then break

I cut more lemon. More ginger. The water they steep in, an impossible bounty.

What I have learned about powerlessness is that there isn’t only one kind.
They dropped bombs on a hospital. Bombs are falling on hospitals.

And my cousin drives herself to rehab again, this time up in Western New York
where I think the leaves must already be rushing toward red and brown, orange and gold

What I have learned about powerlessness is not what they wanted me to learn:
Powerlessness as serenity. Powerlessness a cold coin in each numbed hand

What I have learned about powerlessness is that it’s not for me
not for me the kind where I am no good to anyone including myself

Today the double line in the road picks up the glow of each changed saffron-yellow leaf
saying danger, saying beauty, marking lines we’re taught not to cross

They are bombing a refugee camp. Bombs are falling on refugees.

And I am making soup. Bombs are falling on children. I am greeting my neighbors. A father is pulled from the rubble. I am calling and calling.
Sixteen members of one family die in the same minute. I am calling and calling and calling.

Three, then nine, fifteen, then eighteen – twenty thousand times over
they have tried to tell us how powerless we are. Yet witness our feet flooding the pavement.

And perhaps I’ve learned nothing after all, if I can still dream of staying the hand
of spineless, curdled men who see infants behind NICU glass and think /terrorists/

who rain down white phosphorus on families and tear gas on calls for justice
who cut the lights, the literal power when we will not take their lies lying down

Perhaps I’ve learned nothing if I dream of their power-eaten husks choking out
I hear you, I have heard you – if I can still dream of wrongs made right.

I still dream of wrongs made right. I don’t mean things will ever be the same.
The wrens in the trees have stopped saying “teakettle teakettle.”
They scream ceasefire. Ceasefire. Ceasefire.

What are you looking for?