Fear by LuAnn Keener-Mikenas

As when I lie down to the tenderness
of your hands, and afterward
still freeze to a halt: Fear
is a killer. And the core of fear?
I will open the stopped mouth, press
the pencil point to the constant page/I will
find it out, what seizes up the ventricles
all my life. We must make names

for the beings who want to destroy us.
When the Alien queen mother came
toward her, snapping out of that maw
a second steel jaw trap—was that not
evil incarnate?  When that creature
streaked toward her on honed
skates of viciousness: do you remember
how she stood her ground? That was what
wrenched us so with hope. Even

clinging to the edge of the last
bulwark, heels blown with the out-rush
into the void, we must not
give up. The ancestors did not, nor those
numberless whose names are lost. 

Anne Frank, a child aged a thousand years,
walked with head up before the guards –
the light that burned from her naked body
must have blinded their eyes. How
shall I not then love you? How shall I not
fling with every ounce of strength
my whole soul into the world? God does not
make bad jokes—and if he does,
throw him out. We can imagine a God
more worthy, One whose nature
accounts for some things. We can raise

in our bodies together the Story
we must tell and keep telling, this
is the calling.

Coming Thursday, my Five Questions interview with LuAnn Keener-Mikenas about her latest collection, Homeland (Louisiana Literature Press).


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