A WAR. A FEAR. A SCAR. AN EAR.
A war was walking down a road
between two neighborhoods. He
stopped from time to time to give
candy to children on either side.
The children were hungry and
the candy made them hungrier.
That’s the kind of candy it was.
The war liked their little bellies
and their high voices and thin
limbs, and he liked to walk back,
when he had no candy and listen
to their tiny begging, please Mr.,
and how by morning the lovely
green jewels of the flies flashed
swarming on their still wet eyes.
A fear sat in the moonlight,
sad and confused: “I am a fear
of what?” he asked himself.
“Don’t I have to be a fear of
something?” He worried he had
never grown up, that he was
only pretending to be an adult
fear. All the other fears seemed
defined, themselves, real.
In the moonlight he remembered
nothing of his origin. “Maybe
if I knew where I came from….”
Men? Women? Fire? Flood?
The dark? The cold? Spiders? Blood?
Who were my mother and father?
He feared the moonlit answer.
Back when the scar was becoming,
back when the cut, back when
no one can remember, then
(we’ve been assured by countless
generations) a perfection was.
You may believe it, may even
know a story of the hand and blade,
and whose, and music with it,
but the scar cannot afford such.
The scar prefers to travel light,
sometimes disguised as pleasure,
or even a special kind of gesture.
Its favorite ride is the exquisitely
designed nerve to the tongue,
which carries it, pollen, across
old understandings, pages, images
and rhymes, from time to time
gathering itself in silence,
refreshing itself with opened flesh.
An ear lost the knack of knowing
a threat from a song. A mosquito
(although there was no mosquito)
was busy in it day and night. Loud
noises: explosions, sirens, shouts,
made the little hairs in the ear curl
and shrivel as if burnt. On the train
between the heart and brain the ear
rode, rocking from side to side in
the deafening tunnel, wondering
if ear is to hear as earth is to hearth
holds up or is false and useless.
There was a voice, from somewhere,
singing about futility, or maybe
threatening to ring every bell at once.
(Originally published in (Un)civil, Vol.1, No. 1)