HomeAboutMastheadJoin POW ListserveDonateArchive
Elyse Fenton



Wreckage was still smoldering on the airport road
when they delivered the soldier- beyond recognition,

seeing god's hands in the medevac's spun rotors-
to the station's gravel landing pad. By the time you arrived

there were already hands fluttering white flags of gauze
against the ruptured scaffolding of ribs, the glistening skull, and no skin

left untended, so you were the one to sink the rubber catheter tube.
When you tell me this over the phone hours later I can hear rotors

scalping the tarmac-gray sky, the burdenless lift of your voice.
And I love you more for holding the last good flesh

of that soldier's cock in your hands, for startling his warm blood
back to life. Listen. I know the way the struck chord begins

to shudder, fierce heat rising into the skin of my own
sensate palms. That moment just before we think

the end will never come and then
the moment when it does.


Staking fencing along the border of the spring
garden I want suddenly to say something about
this word that means sound and soundlessness
at once. The deafening metal of my hammer strikes
wood, a tuning fork tuning my ears to a register
I'm too deaf to understand. Across the yard

each petal dithers from the far pear one white
cheek at a time like one blade of snow into
the next until the yard looks like the sound
of a television screen tuned last night to late-
night static. White as a page or a field where
I often go to find the promise of evidence of you

or your unit's safe return. But instead of foot-
prints in the frosted static there's only late-
turned-early news and the newest image of a war
that can't be finished or won. And because last
night I turned away from the television's promise
of you I'm still away. I've staked myself

deep to the unrung ground, hammer humming
in my hand, the screen's aborted stop-time still
turning over in my head: a white twist of rag
pinned in the bloody center of a civilian's chest,
a sign we know just enough to know it means
surrender, there in the place a falling petal's heart would be.

                     -from Clamor