Many of the Girl Scout songs
extorted a smile, our servile mugging —
but this one we loved best.
Starring a calf being hauled in a minor key,
its refrain two mournful syllables: dona.
First came the long o — in induction/seduction
to join the animal's cargo cult, then came
the short a, when the calf turned to beef
with no last meal and no reprieve.
The gist of the lyric: that we could choose
to be the calf in the cart or the bird in the sky;
the idea was simple, but also a lie: dona.
Bird is small and can fly where it wants
but it'll never be Miss Teen USA,
whereas the word abattoir was a chic French Kiss
our tongues would enter willingly.
Let that bird flitter off
like a dry dead leaf: this was a hymn
that we sang on our knees
on the dais by the flag, dressed in our sashes
and green berets like irregulars planning
a suicide mission: there was glory ahead
when we signed on, clambered into the wagon,
and let the future hitch up its horse.