The Drowning People

The Drowning People

The Drowning People 1920 1920 Maria Popovic

When I was a weight my mother carried in her,
she walked the streets in protest of her country
committing massacre in the Bosnian war.
My mother says:
“I do not care about politics”
but the reek of bloody hands
will wake even a sleeping hound,
smelling one metallic-tasting thought:
do we understand
we will live what we choose
again and again?

As a child, I felt ashamed
for being born in a sinking country.
I did not want to be one of the
drowning people: even when they reach
shore they breathe water all their lives.

I have since learned that some people
drown in air; drown in the soil
that bore them, drown strangled by
beloved hands, drown by State order
choked with words they were not allowed

to taste. Some drown in fire.
Some drown with a knee on their throat.
Each missed breath,
condensed by unaging rage,

makes the frost that bites
the forehead of the Titan-statue
whose pompousness spells

I T H A S A L W A Y S B E E N T H I S

up, up, to be seen from the Moon

cracking its hollow skull,
lines thin like lightning.
each missed breath is a drop drained
from this granitic vastness, like
cold fear-sweat,

and drop by drop
we make the tide that swipes the Earth.
The old Gods drown.

The drowning people breathe.

Header photograph © Rick Lingo.

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