I didn’t cry
until I heard about the mice.
Not when I heard about
minimum wage TSA workers
who couldn’t afford child care or gasoline.
Not when I saw
federal employees lined up outside food pantries
in some Depression-era montage.
Not when I heard about people
being called back to work without pay
like 21st century indentured slaves.
Not even when I heard about the potential
of ruined credit ratings and lost homes
that looms when paychecks are denied.
I didn’t cry when I heard the interviews
with NASA workers whose daily data collection
had been interrupted and compromised.
I didn’t cry when I heard about
small ancillary businesses—
gas stations, luncheonettes, preschools—
suffering losses they would not recover.
I almost cried when I heard
how our national parks
were profaned and vandalized,
iconic Joshua trees destroyed
and how disappointed children
who had made the pilgrimage
to our nation’s excuse for a capital
were denied the long-anticipated
sight of pandas or spacecraft.
No, I didn’t cry
until I heard about those damned mice—
when the government researcher
was finally permitted to reenter her lab
and found her whole team
of tiny white research assistants
dead in their cages.
Marianne Gambaro’s poems have been published in several print and online journals including The Aurorean, Oberon Poetry Magazine, Pirene’s Fountain, Avocet Journal, Snowy Egret and The Naugatuck River Review. Her chapbook, Do NOT Stop for Hitchhikers, is published by Finishing Line Press. Following a career as a journalist and public relations practitioner for nonprofit organizations, she now writes for the sheer love of the word. She is a member of the Florence (MA) Poets Society and serves on the editorial team for Silkworm, their annual journal. She resides in verdant Western Massachusetts, with her talented photographer-husband and three feline muses.
Photo by Luke van Zyl.