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The Census (Rachel Perry- Lafayette, LA)

“What we need is just a headcount
of all you citizens not at ease.
Those confused or discontent,
lift up your hands, please.”

“How should we be confused?”
ask the masses with raised eyebrow,
turning heads towards the poller
as far as necks allow.

“Those of you confused
by the world which we abide in,
by the balance of the Earth
upon the axis where it spins.”

“The Earth is spinning?”
yells a voice from some deep and untaught jungle.

“What's an axis?”
yells a boy in rags for clothes.

“Let me rephrase the query,”
says the poller a bit unnerved,
reaching for another set
of words left on reserve.

“Those of you confused by yourselves
and those around you,
by the way in which we interact
and the motions which we move through.”

The masses murmur hushedly
amongst their disjointed continents.
Some theorize the pollers words.
Some loosen hands from pockets.

“Why do you wish to know?”
asks a man with some suspicion.

“What's it for?
Demands the skeptic by his side.

“The poll is just to help you,”
states the poller, aggrevated.
“To locate discontentness
and somehow try to treat it.”

“What nonsense,”
spats the mother who turns back to her washing.

“Sounds fishy,”
mutters two old men with beards.

Other members of the masses
contemplate with faces wrinkled
what the world will make of them
once their confusion is revealed.

“I swear its just to help you,”
cries the poller in frustration,
“If we know what ails the ailing
we can end their desperation.”

Yet the hands are apprehensive,
some rise up but soon are lowered.
Their owners do indeed have doubts
but choose stances more self-assured.

The poller pulls a breath in,
teeth clenched, eyes brimmed with tears.
“I am baffled too,” he cries,
so soft that no one hears.

“How strange,” the masses mutter,
of this quiet, crumpled man,
then turn their sore necks back around
to whatever task at hand.


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