Letter to America by Martha Silano

One Poem

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Dear America,

Though half of us are playing Taps, don’t expect us to remain silent as salal.

Someone threw a bottle at a woman in a hijab, said wherever you’re from—
go back.

The thing about landscape paintings, too many of them render the natives
safe in the distance, paddling tiny canoes.

She was carrying a light bulb, so I followed. Said her husband had to make them;
otherwise, he’d have no job.

He was aching to delimb, to buck. Said he’d voted for the man who’d give him
back his freedom to fell.

We will build a primeval protest space, an activism arch. We will bake resistance
cake, roll out you-can’t-be-kicked-out pie. Tearing into bread, we will find
our focus, our march, trade in words like rigged and thugs for mercy, grace.

If they ask us to register as Muslim, we will register as Muslim. If they ask us
to register as Mexican, we will register as Mexican. If they ask for the children,
we will be the child on the floor with our crayons, scribbling a house,
a line of tulips, a lawn.

One lung doesn’t make an empire-toppling wind.

The thing about faith: you cannot leave behind a single cell, or you will not leave
the tarmac, the cabin door will not close, the plane can’t cruise at altitude.

Darkness has nothing on the searing light.




Martha Silano’s books include Reckless Lovely, The Little Office of the Immaculate Conception, and, with Kelli Russell Agodon, The Daily Poet: Day-By-Day Prompts For Your Writing Practice. Martha edits Crab Creek Review and teaches at Bellevue College.

Read poetry by Martha Silano previously appearing in Terrain.org: two poems and two poems.
Header image: Albert Bierstadt’s “Indian Canoe” (circa 1886) courtesy Blanton Museum of Art and Wikimedia. Photo of Martha Silano courtesy Martha Silano.

Terrain.org is the world’s first online journal of place, publishing a rich mix of literature, artwork, case studies, and more since 1997.