Monument (audio only)
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From Native Guard: Poems by Natasha Trethewey. Copyright © 2006 by Natasha Trethewey. Reproduced by permission the author.
No right is more precious in a free country
than that of having a voice in the election
of those who make the laws under which,
as good citizens, we must live. Other rights,
even the most basic, are illusory if the right
to vote is undermined.
—Justice Hugo Black, 1964
In dim light now, his eyes
straining to survey
the territory: here is the country
of Loss, its colony Grief;
the great continent Desire
and its borderland Regret;
vast, unfathomable water
an archipelago—the tiny islands
of Joy, untethered, set adrift.
At the bottom of the map
his legend and cartouche,
the measures of distance, key
Do not hang your head or clench your fists
when even your friend, after hearing the story,
says: My mother would never put up with that.
Fight the urge to rattle off statistics: that,
more often, a woman who chooses to leave
is then murdered. The hundredth time