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Gerry Loose
the wall

Qin Shi Huang, Emperor
Publius Aelius Traianus Hadrianus (the one we call Hadrian), Emperor
Titus Aurelius Fulvius Boionius Arrius Antoninus Pius, Emperor
Walter Ulbricht, First Secretary
Nikita Sergeevich Khrushchev, First Secretary
Ehud Barak, Prime Minister
Ariel Sharon, Prime Minister

My father worked on this wall.
He was not important
except to my mother and myself.
He was not a big man.
He lifted stone on stone
a lifetime’s work
went to work every day
but soon stayed on the wall
it was too far to come home each day
it was farther than we could walk
though it seems to me unless it’s circular there must be ends
even if they fall into the sea.
Can the sea be walled in?

He was promoted
he was the one who pulled the lever
to tip the cement into the forms
to make sure it was even
across the steel rods.
When it was finished
when the wall was finished
he found he was not on the same side as us.

Our backs here ache carrying the little water we are allowed.
An existence for us all
to have our hearts on one side of the wall
hands and backs on the other
though my father’s heart is here, his back is there.
And my mother doesn’t know where
her heart is whether
in the single fruit tree we have left
or with her dead sister
or in the man only
her thoughts can reach.
She brings her own hands together
supplicant because she
cannot touch his.

The wall is already 400 miles long
25 feet high
built of steel concrete wire
yes orchards mothers sons aching
backs piles of shoes
cellos oranges footballs
empty cans dishes pots pans
forks & spoons
arteries veins teeth bones.

At the foot of the wall
among other wild herbs we are not allowed to pick
the purple flowers of Lunaria rediviva
that we call honesty.
Perennial honesty.

 

 

 

 

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