Tea at Thermoplyae

Here in the hot baths of sulfur springs, I wash out wounds,
Call out past poisons from the pores, and prepare the flesh
For mortal acts that demand human sacrifice
Beyond the stamina common to our American
Muscle now steeled in our bones by terror.

Leonidas, speak. Speak to me. I stand in the gates with you
Where death forges fire and history into resistance.
We need your voice not your weapons.
Your nine-foot spear points toward the invader
On this hot day by the National Highway

Where we sit with the Turk enjoying afternoon tea.
In the stillness of the breeze, I watch my wife dry her hair.
I nock the poem, pull the string, and release this arrow to the air.
A Greek boy kneels before your statue in prayer.
My knees quiver. Your words pass through Thermoplyae.

Kemmer Anderson walks his dog along the Trail of Tears in Chattanooga, Tennessee and has walked the streets of East Jerusalem in 1971, '83, 98, and 2015. Read other articles by Kemmer.