Erika B. Girard

Sticks, Stones, and the Real Weapons

The words we say are real.

We are real.
We, as humans, are real.

We have accepted the ache for growth
            as a dream that cannot reach fruition
            a figment of the imagination
            a gossamer thread that slips from weary
                         arthritis-ridden fingers

We find solace in remembering
            ways that ghosts of black and white
            changed the world
                        for good.

But the world is changing
and whether or not we do, too, is
            up to us.

We don’t want to alter a little. A bit.
We want to rise as one
            and find our voice.
                        A voice that defies all

We want to grow and morph and change
            like the beauty of a mother’s body
                        that won’t return
            to the same shape it was. At least
            not for a long time.

We want the change we catalyze to
            move so fast
            we leave stretch marks
                        no cocoa butter
            will remedy or fade or remove.

We said we wouldn’t fight you
            but we never said
            we wouldn’t fight.

The world exploits weakness.
Sticks and stones may break my bones
but words will never hurt me.

            leave scars even a grandmother’s salve
            cannot heal.

            cause a rift of doubt that widens to a chasm
            that will, unchecked, become an abyss.

            target the parts of me I believed were unbreakable
            and shatter them irreparably.

We watch as you block your ears
            like it’s a game
            and the rules keep changing

We don’t mind playing it with you
            just to be near you

Ignorance might be deafening
but Love roars and rumbles

which means
            you’ll still feel us
                        even when you refuse to listen.

So when the darkness of night descends
            and we finish our prayers

When the cold glass of milk is offered us
            and we finally refuse it

When the heavy blanket of silence covers the
            because despite the humming vocal
                        chords of humanity
            half our airway is crushed
            and the other half is afraid

it is only then

we hear the ghosts rise as one
long-silenced voice
            asking we the many
            to do what they could not
                        or would not
                        or did not
            begging us


Erika B. Girard is a recent graduate of Saint Leo University in Florida with her B.A. in English Literary Studies and a minor in Hospitality Management. Originally from Rhode Island, she derives creative inspiration from her family, friends, faith, and fascination with the human experience. Her work appears or is forthcoming in The Alembic, Delta Epsilon Sigma Journal, Wild Roof Journal, Sandhill Review, Edify Fiction, and more.

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