Refuge

April 22. Earth Day. Here's a poem I wrote about loving the earth and all my sisters (including trans, nonbinary, and queer people) in spite of humanity and the patriarchy.
 
I wrote this poem after election day in 2016. It was later published in the Sirens Benefit Anthology in 2021 titled Villains and Vengeance (still available for $5 on Amazon). I had almost forgotten about it when my dear friend, Sarah Mack, sent me a kind message after rereading it recently. Her message meant so much to me that it prompted me to start sharing poetry again this month. Thank you, Sarah.
 
Happy Earth Day to all.
 
Refuge
By Edith Hope Bishop, November 2016

Maybe we don’t fight the good fight.
We try another route.
First, we let the house plants die
forget to shut the screen door
come home late
that sort of thing.
Leave them uneasy
and off-kilter
unsure why there isn’t sugar
in the jar or
wondering whatever
happened to the cat.
Then quietly
while the game is on
we grab our boots
our babies
the bags we packed
several centuries ago
and we slip out.
We take the boats.
Pushing off in the dead of a December night
we’ll float away, like Glinda
or space dust
or something they haven’t named yet.
But listen, let’s just sink the yachts
right away
run them to ruin on the rocks.
They won’t be needed
and we can all agree
they’re ridiculous anyway.
It’s the smaller vessels
we’ll steer
to the secret places
we’ve been mapping
while they thought we were
napping, or preening,
or paying rapt attention
to some awards show
or comic franchise.
They won’t follow right away. Not for a while.
They’ll have to organize, and find their socks,
call in sick, make their excuses.
That will give us time.
And we’ll need time
to find cover
in the swamps
where, naturally, we belong.
The difficult, unworkable
wastes ruled by no one but reptiles.
Too hot, too humid,
where plants blister and bite.
Where every step is reflected in dark water
and no trace will ever be found.
Sawgrass and cypress will hide us.
Mud will coat our skins and hair.
Our children will shake with fear
but we’ll comfort them with song.
And at night, when we’ve put the youngest to bed,
under palmetto canopies
their bellies full of fish
we’ll hardly believe what we’ve done.
That we managed it at last.
The truth will glow in each hardened face,
each knot and braid,
each bond we made,
and when they come for us,
as they inevitably will,
it will be too late.
We’ll already have remembered
the lives they took
and still singing
in all that air
we’ll twist our bodies
in a dance like grief
and open time.
The winds will come.
The dead.
All the lost, all the taken.
Lightening and hail and the great waves of old.
The creatures, who were never theirs,
of fin, of wing, of scale and tooth,
will come.
They’ll help us collect
the stones and sticks,
the mud and branches
we’ll use to build our home.
We’ll have a home.
Do you hear me?
An impenetrable,
unceasing,
constant shelter
that is only ours.
Let them waste their lives
searching for us in the swamps.
Let them loose their planes, their toys,
their guns, their tempers in the rain.
We dine on oysters and wild oranges.
Our children grow in grace.
We never wear shoes.

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