Anne Caston: “A Man, Returning, Will Not Be The Man Who Left”

A world view: for months and months before he left
for war, he’d spoken of it as if to be without one
was to be godless. And then the planes. Four.

Forget a world view. What she wants
today is a table solid enough to set things on:
a lamp, a pitcher, a bowl of lemons.

She wants a dress the color of brandy.
She wants a black lace shawl.
A silk slip. A locket.

But Love, that tenderest tyrant of all,
fastens its necklace of flame
at her throat and she gives herself

over again to the lesser glory of who she is
with him: the glory of a bent spoke
and the rut it fell into.

She imagines him sometimes now
as he must have been then
in that other kingdom of men:

his doll-like face in its little uniform
of death; his shuttered eyes,
opening, closing;

and, underneath the ribs,
in place of an actual heart, the far-off
knocking of the guns that opened him.

Reprinted by permission from the website Why Are We In Iraq?


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