Touch: The Journal of Healing


Natural Defenses

    by Gregory W. Randall

An armadillo equips itself

     with ossified plates, the hardening

of its bones over eons.

     At some point

the porcupine became obsessed

     with converting hair follicles

into barbed javelins

     to dissuade predators

or the merely curious.

     At this moment 

you possess 

     few defense mechanisms,

like a fawn 

     taught to crouch very still 

in the shadow of tall grass, 

     hoping not to be seen,

or a chameleon that claims 

     the patterns of its surroundings

for its own skin. I’m sorry that,

     tangled in these white sheets,

ensnared with tubes and monitors,

     with cuffs that encase your legs

squeezing and pumping

     blood through your veins—

there’s no place to hide.

     I wish I could promise you

cover, a thick barricade

     of brambles and thorns.

I wish I could promise you

     you’ll never blend into 

this environment.

     All I can promise

is to watch over you at night,

     some form of natural defense,

till you’re strong enough again

     to defend yourself.

© 2010 Gregory W. Randall

Gregory W. Randall majored in English and Latin at St.Olaf College and spent innumerable hours in the music library. Classical music by composers such as Sibelius and Brahms continue to inform both the structure and pacing of his poetry. His chapbook, Double Happiness, won the Fifth Annual Camber Press Chapbook Contest as judged by Mark Doty and is forthcoming in late 2010. His chapbook, A Room in the Country, will be published by Pudding House Press in 2010. He is a recipient of the Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Prize for 2008 and a finalist for the 2008 White Pine Press book award. His recent work appears or is forthcoming in The Bitter Oleander, CQ, Cream City, GW Review, Louisiana Literature, Louisville Review, Pedestal, Rosebud, Southern California Review, South Carolina Review, Sow’s Ear, Stand, and other noted journals. Greg owns a financial planning practice in Santa Rosa, CA where he and his wife host the Londonberry Salon a quarterly celebration of poetry in their home.


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Touch: The Journal of Healing

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