by Mercedes Lawry

Played out on a green field, square,
or roughly so, the intersection of two boys,
one and the other in conflict, tempers abraded.

Was he wronged, this one, or caught in slant perception?
Was he insulted, that one, at such ruinous assumption?
The roil of blood was quick, accelerated hearts.

As under the blue sky with stray clouds, the boys
laid hands upon each other and the force against flesh
incited more. The twist of limbs became full focus.

Did the boys shed some semblance of self,
distill to whatever propelled the species,
descent or revelation, inflicting violence

that sleeps in us, deep or shallow, smothered
or encouraged? What it might take to strike,
a momentary thought, a sorrow, a slice of despair

when action breeds injustice, or knocks us off center.
It’s not survival here in this field, grasses ticking.
Is there room enough to judge? Is the darkness
less or more? Are we the darkness?

Mercedes Lawry has published poetry in Prairie Schooner, Poetry, Nimrod, Harpur Palate, and elsewhere. She’s published two chapbooks as well as short fiction and stories and poems for children. She lives in Seattle.