Frances Drabick

The Streets Are Filled

Young children sink in the sagging corruption
of a bed. It is not a compromise. It is by force
they lay their head. A vile putridity thick
in their throats, tiny voices altered by adult
dominion that provoked their childhood out of them.
Their silty innocence is disturbed; young bodies
become a social study of trauma found submerged
in statistics. They are the corpus that continues to teach
the repetitious, repeat performance by man-not-so-kind.

Begin the search on a dark day near the dry rot
of depression in a damp cellar door. Peer deeply inside
to abhor mankind’s internal creatures
that cause us to cringe. Persist in this chilled risk
as the viper slips into your spine. Don’t fear. Think
of the children constricted in our world’s vast lands.
Reach in. Feel their fangs puncture your hand
or fail gravely again to save the innocence of humankind.

Rescue a child from the coil of guilt
and shame. Not theirs. Yank the young
from among the sly-ugly. From sordid stations beneath
our streets and at foul-heights deviants roam and comb
for the womb’s gift. Still. It hasn’t ended. In all places
they are faces of deceit. Press on to defeat them.
Venture into bleakest nights and into grayest days.
Search in our very homes and onward to Rome’s spires.

I cannot write of colorful birds today. I cannot
begin such a flight when so many songbirds
are nesting in places of fright and fear. They are
held captive in our blindness. Open eyes.
Gather them. Swoop them up. For too soon they grow
old and enter the death of their youth. Lift them up
to the humanity of truth: that someone cares
about this abysmal abuse of their flourishing feathers.

Frances Drabick has poems published in Off the Coast in Maine; Editors Michael Brown & Valerie Lawson. Poems and essays published in national, state and local sources. Nominated for a Pushcart Prize in poetry in 2009. Retired from Human Services; lives in Maine.

(author retains copyright)