Examining the Cannon
Tampa Bay Hotel, 1898
How gingerly they rest their hands on its barrel,
the solid heft of it.
How familiar they seem in its presence,
like crowding around an old patriarch.
One fellow with the look of a soldier
slouches beside it easily as lounging in the sun.
He savors his cigarette, daydreams about rain.
One gent in a black suit and bowler makes notes in a little book,
staring down into the death maw as if it were a wishing well.
One man in summer-white linen and straw hat strokes it there,
on the worn fire-mouth, powder-soft O of fury.
Blocks away, in our dank shuttered houses,
we iron our restlessness,
darning their socks, sewing buttons to their uniforms.
After tea-cakes, after shutting the lamps,
we will bid our husbands good night
and herd the giddy anxieties of war that we,
the weaker sex, are prone to
back onto the fainting couch.
We will say our prayers to Almighty God
and ask for an end to strife,
and try not to hope for more,
since women are nothing
in the face of men and their fascinations.