Persona October, 13th 2020 by

Our Case - By Mara Lemanis


Our Case

What is the case, we asked.
Has the world shown cause
to make a case for us…
Rocking day and night
in its watery cradle
it belched up rocks,
cracked gullies in our floors,
pulverized atomic numbers
to blow us out of the way;
Seas roiled our shores,
soaked through valleys,
leaving an alluvial plain
for rice or wheat or barley
if we had nerve enough and time
to make a scythe, a plough, a ditch;

We threshed and harvested,
we lived from crop to crop
or roamed with herds
to graze on random grains
as the world, gorged
pole to pole,
rocked day and night
around its sunny path,
and showed no cause
to make a case for us;
We caught a vapor trail,
A hint of some design
through the motley mirror
of each other’s rounds
or old dependencies
of thirst and hunger
allayed by goats who,
guileless, laid our table
when we eyed more than milk;
When what we wanted was a capstone
to seal temporal arts in immutable law.

We found a common cause
Inventing chisels, trowels, mallets
erecting walls, wells, store houses,
Temples to make a home for those
Who would protect us, write
our name to wake the stars,
build secret vaults above
the rock that carried us
inside its heedless cradle;
We clocked our days
by the painted totems of the kin
who passed before us
leaching their bones to ripen our soil;
They rose up in our dreams,
Unearthly vistas blotting out
the sights we understood;
They showed us omens we read
through sacraments of animal blood–
those were like ingrained science for us;
We crowned them in our temples
and bowed to hear them tell
us what they saw
for they were guardians
of the secret alchemy
that made our numbers count
against the apathy of the world.

Invaders broke our walls,
plundered what we stored,
ripped flesh, smashed temples;
We fell upon the charred, torn ground,
the water surfing with our dead,
and beseeched the guardians
whose names we held aloft—
Marduke, Anu, Ra, Inanna,
whom later we called
Brahma, Yahweh, Allah, Christus;
They availed us all in kind—
we cried out: You lied,
You warped our trust,
Did we not hear, did we not see
Your arcane signs, or did we botch
your omens with our mental plaque…?
We threw our sorrow at the ruins
and in the grim night, inside
the cradle rocking home its dead,
we begged what was our cause,
what was the case for us.
And the earth beneath us buckled,
the atomic table burst,
and obscure fragments—
scabs from totems,
temple shards–rushed in
and cradled us in infinite communion.

–Mara Lemanis





Mara Lemanis

Biography: Mara Lemanis is a literary scholar. Her essays have been selected for 20th CENTURY LITERARY CRITICISM and are included in undergraduate student textbooks in the U.S.

She has worked as an archivist for Historical Preservation and with the IRC, assisting refugees in Oakland, California.

Disclaimer: The views, opinions and positions expressed within this guest article are those of the author alone and do not represent those of the Marbella Marbella website. The accuracy, completeness and validity of any statements made within this article are not guaranteed. We accept no liability for any errors, omissions or representations. The copyright of this content belongs to and any liability with regards to infringement of intellectual property rights remains with the author.


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