Snipers on the Roof

            Washington, DC, April, 1968

Tourists fresh from Wyoming
to a closed-down capital,
we made a game of counting them:
43, white like us,
in fatigues—no cowboy hats,
long guns resting carelessly
on knees or in the crook of an arm.

I was too young to know
there were more
behind the opaque windows
of those graceful buildings,
and my father too trusting
of military self-control,
and all of us too ignorant

to understand why
the black family
in the car from Illinois
followed so closely behind
and did not seem to be counting
the snipers as a souvenir
or a game.

Sheryl Slocum lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where she teaches English as a second language at Alverno College. Her poems have appeared in numerous small press publications, including BluelineThe Anglican Theological Review, and The Wisconsin Poets’ Calendar. Some of her poems are informed by her Peace Corps experience of living in a country torn by civil war and by the conflict experiences of her refugee students. A Pushcart nominee, Sheryl is a member of the Hartford Avenue Poets and the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets.

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