Archaeology: BATTLE DRUM


I’ve been two-stepping this rain dance
for some time because the Sun declare war
on me. She got angry when my parents smuggled
me into the world at midnight, when she
wasn’t paying attention. Before I could explain
that I was not a weapon, she took advantage
of my pale skin and started burning
away layers, peeling back coverings
to examine the insides.

So, I’ve been calling down rain
tapping heel-toe, heel-toe in cool shade
because I don’t mind showing this core
but if I have to lose these layers,
I’d rather wash them away.

I wrote this poem when someone asked me if I would rather drown or being burned alive, a little too soon after I had been sunburnt so badly that lobsters told me I looked too red. I was an already opinionated nineteen-year-old, who now had very strong opinions about burning.

I still like this poem because there’s traces of every class I was taking that semester buried in the lines. The whole thing was written for a creative writing class, but I was thinking of the fact that my astronomy class had said that humans were made from the carbon left over from long-dead stars, and that my Greek class was studying a play about prophecy and threat, and my lit course had brought up dancing as invocations.

Very little of those things actually came out strongly in this poem. I can see where they’re supposed to be, though, and if I ever get around to revising it, they’re the things I’m going to try to yank up to the surface.


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