for E. Coleman, L. Ferlinghetti, E. Fontinell, G. Mally, D. Yezzo, All Men of Good Will and Sometime Armed Forces
in such windrush he
he's moving too
fast in the pitchblack
parachute hot buckles & charred string
he is on fire he hits salt
water, goes out as he
goes under. It chokes with
him in his throat,
Fire, the flare human, the
body of burning plunging,
shot star sea-quenched:
...fifty years on fire in my mind.
Second hand. Dreamed, dreamed,
a silence of scream, heat
into cold, extinguishing.
Waked by, wept for, guessed at,
an ignorant dream, dreaming those
who flew to kill again toward gunfire
flew killed flew killed flew But he
burned, that boy, my age. Lt. Little,
prayed for in my parish monthly thirty years
till his mother died; who else would remember?
His lovers at then twenty-one
have long loved others. Only those
who made him up out of anguish
ignorant among war news remember
what the order of murder made.
Wasp & osprey flee our ring of discord
but now & then— as if some beast were fat
& we winter-struck with hunger—
we close in on it flourishing weaponry
and war makes meat of some.
In their poor young butchers
otherwise virtuous it taints memory
with ownerless bitterness.
Our catch-basin cities swirl with blood
until—some larder stocked—we stop
come home wash up and restore
peace as if there were no war.
If slaughter always alters our memory
if brutal mistakes are fatal so far
& if I—no Amazon, no Lysistrata— agree
no life is free of brute fatality
what is a safe childhood for?
of what is war the history?
"Two Questions" by Marie Ponsot. All Rights Reserved. Reprinted with the permission of the author.