In the Kingdom of Perpetual Night

for The Mothers of the Movement

where all their lost, original songs
squeeze the bellows of death,
sing with mouths of sun & flint
such lullabies of dread

emptying to arch, wind & spit,
to baptize these dark waters
blood, to mustard as poultice—
more broken bodies, trashed.

Human pain is no consolation
for beaten skin, for love notes
written in bullet or noose. How many
tears until you wish to return

as a silk corsage, as a shimmer
from that feral, unfamiliar perch—
each mourn that incapacitates,
splits into an infinitive of flight?

No ordinary, dime-a-dozen
women: too many
mothers, keening into the canopy
after their babies long-fledged,

whose branches offer filtered
light until the fogbank hits the straits
of grief. You might shake.
I might send my words

into battle with the air.
To know their extraordinary glory,
how momentous it is to speak
aloud.

Their names.

Too swift
gone
& now?
Each aria, a gasp.