Gritty Details

Monday, September 19, 2016

Tonight's Poet Corner: Our Manifest Destiny

Our Manifest Destiny
by Belinda Roddie

It used to be that you went west
for rivers that dyed your fingers gold
when you dipped your dry hands into them,
for hills that glittered under both the sun's
chariot and the moon's cradle, and for valleys
untouched by the hooves of tamed steeds
and the wooden wheels of ambition.

You went west when you wanted a handful
of acres of land to build your house on, till
your soil on, the smell of fertility lingering
like Mother Nature's rising bosom against
your cushioned nose. You looked out at
the crest of the ocean as if you were honoring
the foamy crown of a great god, who watched
passively over you as you grew your children's
futures out of a bag of seeds you brought with you
on the long journey over to the coast.

You slept in the hulls of ships that stank of urine,
vomit, and desperate dreams as stale as whiskey
caught in your old man's throat. You got your
knuckles stamped with ink that stained you for a time,
as you settled into the tenement that held up
the bones of the bridled and broken. You kept
a diary, wrote in it daily, so that one day, your
grandchildren and great-grandchildren could read
your words and warnings from the comforts
of new luxury brought on by this country's so-called
endless opportunities.

You went west for freedom, for glory, for gold,
for guts, for God, for peace of mind. You escaped
the fists of erratic tyrants who you never guessed
would switch out their armor for a badly fitted
suit and tie. Now, your graying vision sees a western
world that crafts chains for people out of the precious
metals it promised for you. The weight is unbearable,
and now, you'd rather see your descendants go back east
where at least the music still sounds sweet.

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