Stuck in the Barrel by Maija Haavisto

Stuck in the Barrel

even in the crowd you can spot them
we give each other little knowing nods
there’s something about their eyes
that hits home like a deer
in the headlights being both
the deer and the floodlight beam

we don period clothes
trill our R’s
but our hearts pound in the wrong time
we raise our shaky sweaty hands
into the ocean of angled arms
reaching out in sickly salutation

I think the others also feel like
crying and throwing up
we wanted this but not this
we came here to be
heroes and saviors
perhaps that’s the problem:
heroism is spontaneous
not a master plan devised
from the safe distance of decades
or perhaps there is something
more sinister at play
standing in the way
of making things right
what if they can’t be right?

either way the hands grow sweatier
but nothing ever leaves the barrel

Maija Haavisto has 17 books published in Finnish, including the poetry collections Raskas vesi (Aviador, 2018) and Hopeatee (Oppian, 2020) and the SciFi novel Adeno (Osuuskumma, 2016). Her speculative poetry also appears in or is forthcoming in Usva, Lumooja, Eye to the Telescope, Shoreline of Infinity, Cosmospen, and Utopia Science Fiction.

Image Credit: Hands reaching in worship [Linda Ely/Pinterest] superimposed with spiraling barbwire [pngegg]