USS Wasp (CV-18)

It’s December and easier than you thought
to watch yourself die.
Your hands rest beside you on the bed.
You’ve forgotten how to lean forward.
Out front the sun exits the yard in neatly-timed
Trees are clean-shaven: soldiers
lining the street.
You are spared precision,
spared the grace of birds that smell of cedar,
find heat in the fluff of their self-generating bodies.
Pointing to the vanity:
Let’s play a game, God says, where you try to un-see
thawing into the sheets: struggling
to eat soup: eclipsed by the backs of heads expecting
one thing of you.
Except your granddaughter is five and you call
her Miss America.
She doesn’t know there’s something called
a pancreas,
isn’t listening for planes.
There was a time you would’ve bayoneted
‘em in the stomach—not thought
twice about it, but you’re bloated now …
and it’s snowing:
the ash of bodies torpedoed in the Pacific
blanketing your undershirt.
Everything tastes
of gunpowder.
Your wife, you think, has never held more perfectly
a spoon.
In a few afternoons, no one wins—
though God will bear down His teeth on every fired
bullet the Heavens knew to save for you.
Coming home,
how many men upon seeing the harbor
beg to turn back to sea?

Originally published in Red Eft Review

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