A Mother’s Plea

Readers: I submitted the following poem to JAXNEXT100, in celebration of Jacksonville’s bicentennial birthday. A winter version may be found on this blog. This is the summer version.

A Mother’s Plea (Or, The Springfield statue speaks)

You.

Down there. Yes,

You.

Will you help me off this

perch, and

bring my children with me?

Toss away this old

tome. Let me

trade

my granite throne for a

tattered bedspread

thrown

over summer’s emerald glade.

My children yearn to join

yours, frolicking

beneath

the August morning

sun. She rises,

as clear as our brother’s

anthem,

as bright as our children’s

minds,

lighting

our prodigal city’s

rebirth.

There below, on communal beds of

earth,

no more shall we lift

our heads to exalt

false idols.

We are not

gods, these children

and I; nor trophies to be

won; nor possessions to be

collected. We beg you

unhitch

us from

this godless height.

Let us gather on the

ground, for readings yet

to be written, made sweet by the

sound of our children’s

laughter, as they run

barefoot

in grass-stained britches.

Let us partake of

crackers and grapes,

a young vintage,

untrampled. We

always

have time

for communion.

We will douse and dry

our hands, and I

will ask your forgiveness

for sins

long etched

in bronze:

Five score and seven years ago, I believed in a falsehood I did not create. Fear and brutality compelled me. To those twin devils: Get behind me, now.

I’m sorry I was not braver.

Blasted by war and hamstrung by history, my body remains captive, elevated by the angry hands of vengeful men.

They said I was the reason for their treason; the rationale for their bloody rage; subterfuge for disgracing branches of live oaks with unpunished murder.

Cut us down before they slay one more child’s father!

Won’t you please melt

down

this breathless

coffin, and set

our spirits

free?

Sculpt a future yet

unshaped

and write a

fresh

new

word.

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