WOMANING THE BARRICADES
On the news Morley Safer is showing the Viet Cong burning villages. I fold piles of
diapers, pick up blocks, argue with colic or chicken pox, say no, no, no, all day long.
On the news Morley Safer is showing G.I.s burning villages to save them. Somewhere
there’s a list of hearts and minds we’ve won.
It makes no sense. I do what my parents did. There are few rules. Because I say so. Do
it! No. Or else. Kill them with kindness or neglect; kill them to save them. Play hide and seek,
kill or be killed, live and let live. because we say we must, because we are one family, because
we have to.
Morley Safer shows the fires, his face is grim, his voice quavers. He has no heart for it.
Give it back. It’s mine. I don’t care. Right this minute.
In the villages there are children. I cannot look at their faces, their hearts only wanting.
Morley Safer knows. There is a necklace of ears who have listened. He
babysits until “Daktari” comes on or “Lost in Space,” until bedtime when nightmares pick up
where he left off, minds closing against us.
I cover my children, I want to swallow them, keep them safe until it is over, until
something is won or lost or finished.
We grow our hair long, wear our skirts short, take the pill. Not even Morley Safer can
say what will happen.