The Quietest Protest

By Rita Powell ’05 M.Div.

Some friends and I, we
got together, talked
about the world, and our hearts
fell like stones through mud
and we began to cry.
“I thought something like this
might happen,” said one. She
pulled small white plastic funnels
from her purse and handed
one to each of us, then
rummaged again, and found
a number of small heavy glass 
bottles, Victorian apothecary,
covered with raised lettering 
we did not trouble to read, old medicines
maybe, and she showed us what to do.
We kept thinking
the world and weeping and now we had a way
to collect our tears. We filled them all, and then
she found a few more, and we filled those too.

The next day, before dawn, that one
friend, wrapped in a wool coat, walked
around to the state house, the church
the college, the bank, the very road, the park
and in each place, took a pale green or blue vial,
unstoppered it, and emptied
our salt water into the ground. 

The Rev. Rita Powell ’95 M.Div. is an Episcopal chaplain at Harvard University.

“The Quietest Protest” by Rita Powell. Copyright © 2023 by Rita Powell. Used by her permission.