Gathering Storm

I sense a gathering storm
just beyond the horizon.

It is the sound of a million voices roaring
when the hands clamped over honest mouths
and oppressed throats
are clawed away.
It is the flavor of salty tears flowing
when unconscious blindfolds are torn off
and the frozen stiffness of terror
melts and moves again.
It is the color of crimson blood gushing
when the hands that clutch our intimate bleeding
cease their protective duty
and transform from shameful stoppers
into fighting fists, upraised.

This storm is a tidal wave of fire
one hundred miles high.
It is the momentum
of a seismic shift
birthed miles beneath the crust
gathering for hundreds of years.

I see the orange glow simmering
just beyond the dawn.
This is not the smolder of cooling embers
left in the pit after a night
of laughter and story.
It is the blaze of ignited torches
held aloft by growing legions
spanning east to west.

This storm is inevitable as sunrise.
As unavoidable as the earth’s turning.
For so much rage, blood and tears
cannot be stifled forever.

This tidal wave of flame,
this crescendo scream of justice and history
bodes inevitable destruction
as certain as havoc wrought
by a crumbling dam
heaving before the weight
of the surging river.

Yet after such great suffering
so long dismissed
such necessary reckoning
so long denied
this spasm of righteous retribution
threatens to burn more than the guilty.
This maelstrom of justice
violent pendulum swinging
threatens to torch more than the perpetrators.

As the rapists and torturers, liars and thieves, slavers and schemers
are pulled from their castles and beds
burned at the stake in the square
or banished to the punishing wilderness,
so are the suckling infants and young mothers,
orphaned youth and awkward fieldhands
turned to charcoal
in the blaze.

I wish
that we could save the goodness
and preserve hard-won wisdom
amidst the tempest.
I wish
that we might protect
the old growth trees
wild game
abundant meadows
and industrious mammals
from the inferno,
for blackened hillsides recover more quickly
when roots and seeds
are left to the soil.

But alas, I fear
too much time has passed
and the torches will not become embers
until all is ash
and ruin.

© S. Rinderle, June 2021

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