Your only son is a stat in the war.
Our U.S. flag will grace
his coffin coming home.
Royal blues inside the cloth
become a permanent bruise of grief.
Your nightgown weeps down
dumplings of your swaying hips —
his father sits in twilight on the patio
replaying games of chess he lost,
the house a place of hollowing.
No message from a general
can mitigate the darkness here.
Serenading nightingales,
off-key and singing all the same.
Talons gripped the olive branch;
it splintered into gray remains.
Time to dye white towels green.
Surrender is impossible.

You leave his room just as it is.
Walk a plank beside his bed
as if the sea had not destroyed
this paradise you nailed down.
You’ll dust each week, change his sheets,
hope sunlight visits icy grass.
Opening the closing door
will break your wrist.
You’ll iron a basket of Sunday shirts.
Count the buttons, put a stitch
in slipping ones that threaten
what the truth demands.
Placemats stay in stacks of three
as if a patch of DNA could tell a lie.
His toothbrush stands
attentively beside the sink —
a monument to sterile wish —
a column in a coliseum
crushed by the falling sky.

*First Published in Poetry

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