Molly McGlennen wrote and recited the poem, “Vigilance,” in the fall of 2016 in support of the Dakota Access Pipeline protests (hashtag #NoDAPL) and against the Trump election. The poem was featured in the exhibition entitled “The World After January 20th, 2017,” curated by Judy Nichols and Monica Church, in the wake of Trump’s inauguration, which brought together the work of community artists, poets and activists through an exhibit and protest that circled Main building at Vassar. “Each morning we wake up to a new order: bans, firings, and threats to liberty, humanity and the Earth.” The work continues.
This winter you will need insulated boots
and gloves; propane and wood, though
wind generators are ideal.
You never knew camp etiquette
would read like a manifesto.
A thin shadow cast by shortening
days. Solstice approaches
then falls away. Everywhere, it falls
away. Sub-zero hands direct
kinship, traffic, a camera’s shutter.
What more can greed take, when protracted
songs pitch shelter against
sets of men’s pockets,
whether thieves, plutocrats,
churchgoers. Everything, you say.
You erect tents and websites, assemble
pittance before long histories of amassment.
Free land, free labor, makes the rapacious few.
Come spring, you will notice
new needs. A windbreaker, you hope. For now
those stars set deep in what seems
a blacker sky.
You pluck one, you think,
and place it in your gloved palm, almost
your heart. Almost your life.
From Our Bearings, by Molly McGlennen. © 2020 by Molly McGlennen. Reprinted by permission of the University of Arizona Press and the Author.