The poet’s memories of war wear him down
He stands isolated
in a dancehall packed with laughing strangers
and, like last time, like all the times,
holds himself tight against what might
happen, but never does, never shows its face.
Drums beat the earth under him
brass horns pulse against his chest
her body is hot and fluid, a river
of music pumps thoughtless pleasure through him,
she is the liquid hot forgetting of
vodka he sweats out soaking his clothes,
he drinks her deeply.
But in the vacuum between songs
he remembers the children, God! what
has been done to the children!
It lacerates his breast, sears his brain,
old bombs explode, ripping his guts,
there is nowhere to go, nowhere.
Nowhere in the press of panting bodies
to sop up the memories,
put pressure against the bleeding, he
reaches for her, the strand of life he tangles into,
his hand lands on the close shore
of her cool running river, she stops,
has seen the flash
of fire rockets in his eyes.
They are stranded, lost together for
an endless moment, silent, suspended,
music returns in soothing waves,
singing the moon, he dives into her
pleasure of mindless movement,
collateral cries and moans of war float into silence again,
he is free once more for another interlude.
Sharon Lopez Mooney, Oh, Children of War, in Visible, ed. Stephanie Drenka, featured in Visible Magazine, online, May 26, 2021, Dallas, Texas,