Witness to an Execution

On witnessing the glacier at Saint-Bernina, Switzerland, June 7, 2014

it is hard to see at first
My eyes come to rest on a valley
where serene snow mass divides and forms a gelid chute
Impervious, alive yet


White tongue of solid ice
deceptively still and silent,
but beneath static serenity
a constant rushing roar erupts from Springs
unknown beneath me.


This is the crime scene of unspeakable violence
(yet I have known and read and understood).
Just a few small degrees, is what my young son had said
and it will all be gone.


I strain to hear it, if only a whisper of its native cry –
a remnant really of
ancient time
spewed forth alive but buried silently.


and clear and certain,
Sluiced sweetness sucked from depths we thought an infinite gift
entitled to us
by Nature.


Great glacier
moral compass,
Arctic scale
weighing the balance
of Celsius points on this green orb.
Measuring out the fractals of my life,
this cold, hard time that we are all doing,
Consuming, ravaging


And strangely my mind goes to the man on Death Row,
dragging me down into that iron chamber
(yes he was someone’s son as well)
strapped down, immobilized, numbed
and frozen with
the thiopental needle.


The muffled animal scream,
in his throat
as nerves and muscles twitched and flinched and time stood still,
strangled agony unseen except for his mother quietly crying
across the glass.


Biting back icy tears
I cannot let this in,
this chilling truth –
it took nearly twenty-five minutes –
runs sick and diseased in the river of my own blue veins.


And mouth dry, with my face blistering in the unforgiving Nordic wind,
I remembered that he asked me “why?”
since it was my generation held responsible –
and I had no answer for this,
This stifling lie,
a mother’s craven shame.

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