“The Insurrectionists Were Right” by Alison Luterman

Alison Luterman


something was stolen—not
the election, counted and recounted, nor
their livelihoods, abandoned, it seems,
without a second glance; not their womenfolk
who turned their cell-phone boasts and Facebook posts
over to the FBI, nor the Confederate statue, lassoed
by a million ropes and toppled
into the river, not even the fewer
and fewer white children playing cowboys
and Indians in vacant lots, or the more
and more Black youth winning
Merit scholarships—but something
aches, a phantom limb, the tongue
searching for its gone tooth, the stomach
ringing hollow no matter how many Big Macs
were eaten—something
has been mislaid, like a wallet
or the one set of keys
that unlocks the only car that still runs; something
once thought valueless, handed over
too easily, the way we relinquished
our wildness as children to sit behind little desks
made of molded plastic,
miniature businessmen in training. Something
that has vanished like youth, elusive
as a coyote’s howl; open the door, there’s nothing
in the bare back yard but plundered
American desert where even now a jackrabbit
pauses to sniff the air—where is it where is it,
do you miss it too? I do. I miss
knowing what belonging to the land
might have felt like, long ago. I miss the honor
of shaping my footsteps to the pine needle path—
so even if I hate
what they did, I understand
that something is missing in the maelstrom of the lie
that made us American, something like an umbilicus
connecting us to this earth, something like innocence;
once gone you can never get it back.

from Poets Respond
June 12, 2022


Alison Luterman: “This last week we heard again about the January 6th assault on the Capitol. This poem seeks to empathize with the grief of the insurrectionists, if not their grievance.” (web)

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