Aimea Storms Arrival

A Standing Peace

part of: Poetry

by Teresa Dunyati-Long

There are those of us
willing to kill.

There are those of us
who are not.
We are watching
in droves,
by the millions,

those who hold the guns,

take the orders,
aim their bullets against

the drums of their own kind’s hearts beating

so loud

I wonder why the sound doesn’t
knock those armies down.

Why are we all here anyway?

Certainly not at the behest
of this generation
of warlords!
Certainly at the behest
of those who gave birth then passed,

certainly for the dead at Waterloo who call to us,
the Tutsi who won’t let us sleep,

the Iraqi mother with her children dead all around her,

victims with their hearts torn out of their breathing chests
in ancient Mexico,
survivors of Agent Orange,

Jericho,

Normandy Beach,

Sarajevo,

Kuwait,

Babylon,

Jerusalem throughout the ages,

every farmer whose life was burned along with his stead,

every woman raped.
They sleep in our bones

dreaming, right along with us,

fitfully

of rain on leaves opening wide to drink in

the sun slanting suddenly down,

their favorite lover’s

tawny thighs opening, of the unanswered longing for

a life lived fully and completely

without terror,

blood,

irreconcilable grief.

We believe this needn’t be

just a fool’s dream

so, here we find ourselves
again.

How many millions are there
in standing armies

the world over?

How many hundreds of millions of the rest of us
are here to surround them

with our warm bodies breathing,

singing of life?

In such a contest of wills

we know has been fought,

perennial as the grass

down all our human ages,

we know
there are only
just so many of us
they can they bear to mow down

before their stomachs ripen,

spill their contents into the blood all around,

before they stop,

simply stop.

It is always a trade-off—

one thing for another—

in this life,

this trade-off

that buys
brief,
sweet

standing peace.