Sunday, 25 October 2020

Naked Athena

                                                            by Grace Richards

as if suddenly sprung
from the crowd’s collective consciousness,
on the fifty-first night of Black Lives Matter protests in Portland.

O Holy Virgin,
warrior maiden for the modern age,
helmet replaced by black pandemic mask,
she treads lightly but steadily, unfazed by the clamor
and confusion, heedless of the sharp, sporadic retorts of gunfire,
the acrid clouds of smoke rising from pepper bombs exploded on the ground.

Our Queen
parts the unruly throng like waves
upon the Red Sea, her path leading to the line
of militiamen with big guns and tear gas, secure in their camouflaged anonymity. 

At the intersection, she faces them, vulnerable and bare.

O Mother of Mercy
Our sweetness and our hope

She begins a yoga routine there,
in the street, her poses graceful and precise.
Her beauty radiates, captivates protesters, press and police

spray-painting is ceased;
reporters shoot videos soon to go viral;
guns are lowered;
silence descends.

When she sits upon the rough asphalt,
knees drawn up, legs
splayed wide,
the police

stand down and retreat, defeated
by the Loving Goddess Eternal,
divine embodiment of peace.

* * * * *

Grace Richards worked in the TV and film industry in Los Angeles and later taught ESL at the college level in Southern California and at the University of Oregon. During the last few most dramatic years, she has found her poetic voice. Her work has been published in on-line journals, such as Willawaw Journal, Writing in a Woman’s Voice, and Herstry blog, as well as in the anthology Poems on Poems and Poets. Her first chapbook, Mid-Century Modern and Other Poems, was published in September 2019.


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