Daily Archives: April 25, 2015

When They Did Not Break Us

Originally posted 7/29/2013; originally titled “When He Broke Us.”

when they first came 
they called us
both resource and nuisance
land and labor bank
in the way
ultimately good for nothing

said it was high time to break us

they set to it
our mystery belonging broke
our fluency in stone’s tongue broke
our river dreaming broke
our river beds opened
and drained themselves down
to now mute bones

we ended almost
when we couldn’t speak to each other

our children were taken from us
they returned much later looking more like Him
and had no tongue to use with us

who were we then without them?

we searched
scrapped and fought
found our old words
or made new ones
mined old life from new seams

now they’ve begun to crack
shame lines crazing faces

tried to wear our clothes
they fell off
tried to steal our names
we called them back to us

we put them back on
somewhat the worse for wear
but unbroken

when we spoke those names out loud
for the first time in a long time
in long songs full of drum and tears
the stones cried welcome back
and welcome home
and welcome once again


The dialogue between those two

was hard to describe
except to say
there was a lot of noise
that carried just a little signal
both intended and unintended
in a bed where each of them
waited cordially, aggressively,
for the next opportunity
to make some noise.
It reminded me of how 

I once was in a house

with walls made
of broken glass
set in rough concrete
so light came through
from outdoors.
From inside it looked
like this conversation sounded:
gems from a distance,
trash close up. I could not
leave that house soon enough,
though I longed and chafed
to be gone, just as

I could not get away

from that conversation.
Prisoner of the moment, I had to 
stay and hear it all, wondering
how it could go on and on
without one saying to the other,

let’s get out of here.  

Let’s not talk for a while. Let’s agree
to take this somewhere else.
Let’s agree to shut up and step outside
into unstained full sunlight
and see what it looks like from there.

By the way,

when I finally escaped
from that house, I found
that from the outside
it just looked like rubble.