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Saturday, May 07, 2011


by Marian Kaplun Shapiro

Wilmington, Mass., Jan. 17, 2010

                       Seven men.
              Three women.
                  Twelve chairs, two
                  waiting for someones yet
                  uncome. You, perhaps. And you.
                  Cluster bombs don’t explode
here in Wilmington where
you live, where, it turns out,
cluster bombs are made. Who
would have thought it! Bombs
on Lowell Street. Bombs in
                  your neighborhood!  Here sit
                  an ordinary-looking bunch
of people, they might be your parents,
or the FedEx man, or
the waitress at the diner, or
the gym teacher at the middle
school. Here they sit. Their homemade
signs lean like bystanders,
against a leafless tree. Their feet
grounded on frozen dirty snow,
they sit on folding lawn chairs,
heads bowed, eyes closed
in prayer, shrugged in ear-lapped hats/
                  lined boots/scarves/blankets.
                  One hour, silent.  When
                  you walk/drive past this human
circle you’re not worrying
                  about the ied’s your jeep
                  might meet. Your kids are home, safe
                  in the back yard,  rolling out
a snowman, poking each other,
laughing nervously because
they’ve dared to go ahead and pinch
one of your best rep ties
to knot around  its neck. Your wife
is checking out the on-line after-
Christmas sales. You think, What
makes these people sit here on
a Sunday morning? What do they want?
                  Nothing more than this,  they’d say.
                  You saw us sitting, and you read
the signs. You saw the empty chairs.

                  You made our day.

Marian Kaplun Shapiro is the author of a professional book, Second Childhood (Norton, 1988),  a poetry book, Players In The Dream, Dreamers In The Play (Plain View Press, 2007) and  two chapbooks: Your Third Wish (Finishing Line, 2007) and The End Of The World, Announced On Wednesday (Pudding House, 2007). As a Quaker and a psychologist, her poetry often addresses the embedded topics of peace and violence, often by addressing one within the context of the other. A resident of Lexington, she was named Senior Poet Laureate of Massachusetts in 2006, in 2008, and in 2010.