“The Secret” by Sarah Cortez

Sarah Cortez


Love whatever can save
your life. Your ballistic vest,
your razored reflexes. The
keys you rubber-banded
to keep from jingling. The
double-tied shoelaces that
won’t come loose in a foot chase.
The short hair a turd
can’t grab in a scuffle
to ream your face into concrete.

that your nerves are a taut
high wire balancing a lovely,
sequined lady. Live on her
narrow steel day and night, on
and off-duty. Remember that
loser you arrested years ago
may be ready to collect your life,
as he vowed he would
some day. But, mostly,

your gun. Practice drawing until
your arm is extruded machinery.
The big grip in your big hand
will cleave to palm, replacing all
other knowledge. Clean its high
performance parts as if you were
swabbing the chambered mysteries
of your own auricles and ventricles.

when you walk
the lawman’s walk
into dirty danger, love
nothing, except
what will save your life.

from Rattle #37, Summer 2012
Tribute to Law Enforcement Poets

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