Voices on the Wind
Voices of Protest
ROSES FOR MY COUNTRY
by Beate Sigriddaughter
When my student was raped on campus
between one dance class and another
one night, I brought her yellow roses.
We kept them under the music table
for privacy until the end of class. I hope
in time she accepted the sickness
wasn't hers, though she was forced
to carry the scars.
Today my country carries open wounds,
so much vehemence against our will,
a friend is violated at the airport
by TSA—six officers, dogs, prods—no good
reason except the snarling jabs, small
victories of tiny power in an atmosphere
of fear and hate and pressure. Mostly fear.
Women speechless once again at having
to take seriously men who give them ulcers
with jeers and undeterred entitlement.
License has been granted at high places.
It is a free for all of lust and money
and disdain. Some friends withdraw
into denial, wanting to be left alone,
to breathe, to heal, to quietly reclaim
their precious lives. Others prepare to
reach for weapons they don't believe in,
claiming they have no choice, now,
they must defend what no one should ever
have attacked. Some merely watch
in mesmerized gloom. Some are in shock
at having been surrounded all along
by dreams so utterly alien to their own.
A sudden fear, like acids, eats into
recently gentle and generous faces.
At my kitchen door the roses calmly bloom
as always. They are for you, my chosen,
my beloved country in distress.