Gillian wearing a blue scarf to cover her nose and mouth and looking directly into the camera

I Come In Peace, But Not Meekly

I come in peace, but not meekly.
My hands are open and unarmed; I reach them
but do not cover them in the colors
of the soil that breathes through the pores of culture
and cries poetry into the dailyness
of what is and must.

I come in peace, but not meekly;
I neutralize and assume and integrate
and try to paint my face with the cosmetics
of culture, but leave off the lipstick that
tells my mouth what to say.
I stand my ground until I don’t,
or don’t until I do, and neither colonizer
nor colonized I stand at the very center of
the chasm, struggling to keep one foot
on both sides until I can’t, and tumble,
battered and cut from the weeds.

It is because I come in peace that I am bruised,
and because I am not meek that I leave bruises,
and because of both I am here, neither giver nor taker
but shifted;
smacked off the scale and exploded,
leaving bits of me in the soil, as much as I lick
the blood from the cuts I myself have made,
(both of my skin, and not).

I come in peace, but not meekly,
and for it, we are all destroyed:
including this wandering, unwitting, unsuspecting
gypsy of an artist who is
not a peacemaker, but who lives the micro wars
that scatter through the unlived, lived,
integrated, unassimilated,
schisms of us.


This poem represents a moment of understanding years in the making as my thinking on peace and what it means evolved and developed.