Issue 123, Summer 1992
“We’ve come to expect ... ”
We’ve come to expect earthquakes, fires, hurricanes,
and tidal waves from our whitecoated brothers
whose laboratories shed radiation
on land and landscape,
disabling cities. Foresighted citizens
outfit granite arks in Idaho’s brown hills,
stocked against flood, famine, pestilence, war, and
hunger of neighbors,
with freeze-dried Stroganoff, bulgur, and Uzis.
Let’s remember: Our great-grandfathers holed up
in mountains with pistols and pemmican, their
should they avoid peritonitis and gan-
grene, to perform the mechanic alchemy
which liquified landscape, dirt to nuggets, and
sluiced a state golden.
Let’s remember not only the local wars
over claims but a late conflict of siblings
in aristocracy and the stock market,
We want comfort: Shall we consult Jefferson?
Alas, he’s busy inventing the lightbulb
that works without electricity. Franklin?
He is occupied
obliterating SIN from Webster’s project.
If we approach doddering George Washington
he only smiles at us in his foolishness.
Shall we call upon
Abraham Lincoln for succor? Sob: The Great
Emancipator succumbs to Grant’s whiskey.
But, if we return past Jonathan Edwards,
past Cotton Mather,
to the Israelites of the Mayflower—
who make covenant with Jehovah’s promised
wilderness and the manna of Indian
corn, who stay secure
in Adam’s fall and the broken promises
of the remnant—we discover ancestors
appropriate to our lapsarian state:
Their rage sustains us.