106: Lake Michigan, Scene 3

April 22, 2019 · 4:59
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Lake Michigan, Scene 3
by Daniel Borzutzky

The bodies are on the beach

And the bodies keep breaking

And the fight is over

But the bodies aren’t dead

And the mayor keeps saying      I will bring back the bodies

I will bring back the bodies that were broken

The broken bodies speak slowly

They walk slowly onto a beach that hangs over a fire

Into a fire that hangs over a city

Into a city of immigrants   of refugees of dozens of illegal languages

Into a city where every body is a border between one empire and another

I don’t know the name of the police officer who beats me

I don’t know the name of the superintendent who orders the police officer to beat me

I don’t know of the name of the diplomat who exchanged my body for oil

I don’t know the name of the governor who exchanged my body for chemicals

The international observers tell me I’m mythological

They tell me my history has been wiped out by history

They look for the barracks but all they see is the lake and its grandeur   the flowering gardens     the flourishing beach

The international observers ask me if I remember the bomb that was dropped on my village

They ask me if I remember the torches   the camps the ruins

They ask me if I remember the river    the birds the ghosts

They say    find hope in hopefulness     find life in deathlessness

Locate the proper balance between living and grieving

I walk on the lake and hear voices

I hear voices in the sand and wind

I hear guilt and shame in the waves

I have my body when others are missing

I have my hands when others are severed

I hear the children of Chicago singing     We live in the blankest of times

"Lake Michigan, Scene 3," from LAKE MICHIGAN by Daniel Borzutzky. Copyright © 2018 by Daniel Borzutzky. Used by permission of University of Pittsburgh Press.