If a Tree Falls
We were pepper sprayed in the face.
They swabbed it in our eyes, pried open
our pant legs and our hands were orange for weeks.
They came running in riot gear. They beat us.
They said pain was the only language we understood.
We understood it, and more. And fear. And the freedom
to return to our lives, cowed. There were some of us
that ran. There were some of us that stayed.
We all felt the violence.
And those not present, those overseas or tucked
in their homes or unborn, they felt the violence.
Riot boot meets sweating flesh. We are safe
in the hole that our fear creates.
We are beating ourselves about the head.
We are swabbing our eyes with pepper spray.
We are going undercover to trap our own voice
on the hidden mic. The betrayer betrays the betrayer
betrays betray. Our hands were orange for weeks.
We are soft bodies in all of this. Wrists and pale flanks
and a dip where neck meets collarbone under
the riot gear, under the riot signs. Everyday
we walk around with our faces showing.
Crows lift black from the puddles, a cedar nests
its rings, one hand finds another –
this is what the world is for.
Poem by BSDFF Promo Team writer Laurel Nakanishi