This Hill, I Will Die On
A free-form poem
How very boring it must be,
without a hill to die on;
no ups and downs nor endless sea,
the only roads leading straight to compromise.
Upon wide-open plains of accommodation
and empty parking lots of complicity —
this is where you choose to make your home
and raise your family?
who marvels at your barren world
from atop my sacred hills.
My world is full of highs and lows:
I conquer mountains of ignorance,
fall into pits of despair,
tumble down slippery slopes,
hit rock bottom,
dig in my heels
and try again.
My hills grow with piled convictions
carefully chosen with love and with pride.
I cultivate these rolling hills, planting flowers
on the graves of those who came before,
whose bodies, having died on these hills,
nourish the land that I stake my claim on.
I have traveled over turbulent seas to reach these hills;
I have burned bridges and straw men,
lost friends and found others,
offering a hand up to help them
join me in the clouds.
I will die upon a lush, green hill —
if not this one, then another.
My hills are defensible positions;
it is strategic in love and in warfare
to have the highest ground.
My hills have names. This one is
My Body, My Choice; she abuts another,
Healthcare is a Human Right.
Over there is Trans Women are Women,
standing tall among her sister-hills:
Love is Love, Gender is a Spectrum, and
Your Identity is Valid.
My hills are a big and varied group;
Some wax and wane like the phases of the moon.
I used to have a hill named Prescriptive Grammar,
but she has eroded over time into something
less like a mountain and more like a molehill,
which can be stepped over when the time comes.
This road leads to Tax the Rich
and that information highway leads to
Vaccines Don’t Cause Autism.
I am piling stones onto The Virus is Airborne;
the stones themselves have names like
Wear a Mask and Aspirated Droplets and
Vaccine Efficacy and Viral Load.
The stones are big and heavy,
but I shall carry the burden happily.
The winds of change push and pull the sands of time,
creating great dunes that appear immovable.
They are fragile, these sand dunes;
the waves and ridges collapse underfoot
and topple with the slightest pressure.
That one, once a monolith named Gender Roles,
has been in free-fall for a century or more;
I kick at its foundations every chance I get.
If it falls upon me
and buries me in sand,
so be it.
I shall dig my own grave here,
in the fertile ground of dissent.
I would much rather die upon a hill
among the clouds of possibility
than toeing the party line
or lying flat upon acceptance
in the wasteland of conformity.
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