In this story the boulder hurts him less
pouring back down that steep hill.
It’s the village below that flattens;
mothers that look nothing like his
or the women he consumed flood
a Texas family detention facility;
their children learn how to settle
into cruelty, the crouch and crush
of anonymity; a whiplash of torches
casket an otherwise pleasant white
anytown main street; an unquiet
border wall divides in- from exhale.
The smile Camus paints on his rock-
soft face refuses to surrender to gravity,
joyously. Halleluiah, inconsequential
aftermaths. Praise collateral damage.
That there is nothing apart from the push
some still call prayer. Heart. Heroism.
That this aped anthem just keeps singing
itself hungry. That no matter how brutal
a king, the narrative the gods fashioned
for him from another’s human clay
daggers its way into my father’s living
room every night. As we eat what someone
else killed. As he tries to tuck my children into
a myth that calcifies the louder he conjures it.
John Sibley Williams is the author of the collections “As One Fire Consumes Another” (winner of the Orison Poetry Prize) and “Skin Memory” (winner of the Backwaters Prize). He is the editor of the Inflectionist Review.
This article appears in the 15 Jul 2020 issue of the New Statesman, Race for the vaccine