“After every war
someone has to clean up.”
“After every war
“The curtain parts one last time
and the ones who killed…”
“He brings me chocolate from the Pentagon,
dark chocolates shaped like tanks and fighter jets,
milk chocolate tomahawks, a bonbon…”
“In Normandy, at Point Du Hoc,
where some Rangers died,
Dad pointed to an old man …”
by Jill Alexander Essbaum is my season of defeat. Though all is green and death is done, I feel alone. As if the stone rolled off from the head of the tomb is lodged in the doorframe of my room, and everyone I’ve ever loved lives happily just past my able reach. And each time Jesus rises I’m reminded of…
“Somewhere some guys have figured out to the exact ounce
how much my life has cost the earth,
how many people have died that I might live.”
You think you know them,
these creatures robed
in your parents’ skins. Well,
you don’t. Any more than you know
what the pines want from the wind,
On starless, windless nights like this
I can hear the wedding dresses
Weeping in their closets,
Luminescent with hopeless longing,
Like hollow angels.
When she comes back, from college, I will see
the skin of her upper arms, cool,
Show’s over, folks. And didn’t October do
A bang-up job? Crisp breezes, full-throated cries
Of migrating geese, low-floating coral moon.
Young Couple, Ohio State Fair: Tracking a Story over Seventeen Years from Photograph to Poem to Voice
What’s crazy to me is that I just happened across this audio now, in 2016. But it was originally recorded two years ago in 2014. The poem itself was written long before that – I want to say around 1998 or 1999.
And even before that, the poem was inspired by a photograph taken by my friend Dipti while covering the Ohio State Fair, in Columbus, OH.
Though I have never caught the word
Of God from any calling bird,
I hear all that the ancients heard.
Now is the time of year when bees are wild
Bless this boy, born with the strong face
of my older brother, the one I loved most,
who jumped with me from the roof…
There’s no end, there’s no end /
to this world, everlasting.