For the Women of Atenco

A Poem by Melissa Studdard

Take it now, this metaphor, your bread.
You’ve seen God bleeding in the streets,
but the militia couldn’t help, sooty faced
themselves, disoriented by the shrapnel
lodged beneath their right to choose
a peaceful life. Take these words flowing
like wine. Let them salve where hands
gripped too tight, where teeth broke the skin,
where fists beat your notions of freedom
and equality flat as powdered dough, flat
as grapes crushed beneath the pointed
boots of war. Let these words recall
those things you meant to be before
rage came storming through your town.
Let them be your appetizers,
served to you with the humility and respect
you were denied four years ago.
Let these words be your dinners and desserts,
evidence you are being heard. Let them
sustain you, as others sip margaritas on the patio,
as others go on about their lives
oblivious to what you have endured. Your time
will come. So keep your aprons on, women
of Atenco; keep your eyes on the timer
and your hearts on the cause—because grapes
beneath the feet become wine, and
dough that is set aside will rise. Yes—
neglected, resilient dough will rise.

*From I Ate the Cosmos for Breakfast

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