Another October 2006, poem by Martina Newberry

Only the dead have seen the end of war
Plato
Don’t ask me about my country
You must learn a generosity born of disaster and intention.
You will insist that it’s not your fault, you didn’t throw in your lot with him. Learn what is real and say what is real.
You must—we must—learn enough generosity
to feel this guilt they refuse to feel.

The war has its own momentum.
It curdles all it touches:
a baby’s skin

      that will never know sweet olive oil,

a boy whose eyes

      will never know to brush softly

over a scarf caught in the winds.

    S P E A K NO E V I L # H E A R NO E V I L # S E E NO E V I L
        As if those were the worst we could do.

We render ourselves speechless with horror,
helpless in anger. We abandon ourselves
in a shame so intense, it’s ink-black, it is indelible.
My daughter says, “Can’t we just talk about “ordinary life?”

        I shake my head

We’ve tortured and burned and crapped all over “ordinary life.”
We’ve turned “ordinary life” into the burning of mothers,
the drawing/quartering of old men and ancient bent women.
The war and I have our own momentum.
If I give you nothing else, child,
accept my anger
and make it your own.


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