Waiting for the Invasion

In other years I watched the sky for birds
flying south in formation.
This year they pass in unbroken lines through my sleep,
driven down on machine wings.

I know the voice you use
for telling children not to fear
every droning sound
that scatters their play like shrapnel or shattered
ice across asphalt; every approach sends them
into piles of limbs under trucks,
sends the youngest under your breasts
that ache like the unmilked she-goat bleating somewhere,
ache with the waiting.

Every child has waited for death angels: I
listened at night for the Russians, who would
know our little town
by its twin water towers.
Someone, believe this, painted the towers black
hoping to save us.
And even now, fear is a night-time animal,
winged engines pulsing and the drone
of my mother praying
in the bed before she died.

No one slipped through a lake of night sky
in search of our secret towers.
No one. I know this now, but some believed
and believing still, prepare the massacre.

Barbara Kingsolver’s work has been translated into more than twenty languages. She was awarded the National Humanities Medal, received the 2011 Dayton Literary Peace Prize for the body of her work, and in 2010 won Britain’s Orange Prize for The Lacuna. Her novel The Poisonwood Bible was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. She lives with her family on a farm in southern Appalachia.

There is 1 comment for this article
  1. Joan Cluff at 1:19 pm

    I was so happy to find this website! I teach Animal Dreams second semester to my English 12 class, and since we are required to do a poetry unit first semester, I always focus on Barbara Kingsolver poetry. It prepares my students for the novel. I have found that once they are able to dissect your poetry, they are able to approach the novel with more depth and insight, as your work is so multi-leveled when it comes to themes and literary devices. I appreciate all of the universal messages you weave into your work. These themes open the class up for discussion of things that truly matter in life. Thank you so much.

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