Chad Parmenter

An Invasion
August 25, 2020 Parmenter Chad

An Invasion
We waited and waited, or by we
maybe I mean I, to be invaded–
promised by Reagan, by Revelations,
by everything I thought we knew
about the Russians, even
by the way our play with
dump trucks and stick guns
always gave in to expectation,
a plateau I couldn’t quite
play my way to–a truth.
So the first surge of worms
that brailled the catalpa tree,
army green, read enemy,
and I found out how to mount
that fantastic, cinematic attack
that brought no more hurt
than a shudder’s worth–one rush
of my hand up the rough trunk,
and they cascaded into the pan
that transported them toward
the garage door, leaking dark
like a castle wall. On the porch floor,
cement swept empty, I made
ragged, prison grids of them,
but they scattered past patterns.
With the gold-colored bulldozer,
too rust-warted to be a toy,
I ran them down, found no
secrets, no future, just guts
the lima shade of their outsides.
But how great, I thought and felt
then, powered by fear, for
however many hours (if it
was even one), to see nothing
under a surface to hurt us,
nothing clutching a god or a plot
that might steamroll our freedom,
or our war. I don’t remember
making any graves, or pouring
them into the field of our yard.
I do remember, do I?, before
they were hurt, they made shapes
more shiveringly moving
to me than words. And then
I made them stop moving.

Chad Parmenter‘s poems have appeared in Best American Poetry, Kenyon Review, Crazyhorse, and elsewhere, and his chapbook Weston’s Unsent Letters to Modotti won Tupelo’s 2013 Snowbound Chapbook Contest.  With Jonathan Farmer and others, he participated in “The Poem That Won’t Leave You Alone,” published on At Length.