Last time I saw you was a wedding
on a sunny autumn afternoon. Old
friends gathered, glad to see each
other again, happy to celebrate the
beginning of a new life in love.
Now I learn that you, my friend,
are in war. Not at, but in.
Your fellow pilot went down yesterday,
down to death. A hair-breadth of moments
kept your own wings from explosion,
saved your flesh from the fire,
though your loved ones did not know this
for a gripping stretch of hours.
I have felt this war deeply,
protested its circumstances,
sent a care package to a soldier
I will never meet, prayed for the
troops sent into “the jaws of hell,”
all the while thinking that this war
is over there—somewhere else—
I have looked into your honest green eyes,
witnessed your quiet strength and
integrity, felt your sheer goodness
and courage. You are real. As real
as the war that is no longer over there
for me, but here, and now. If those of us
lucky enough to live on peaceful plains
could see, could feel, that wherever the
blood may spill and the bones splinter,
war is always here—never truly there.
If we could see that sooner or later,
even the far war will touch,
will scare, will scar us all
in some unforgettable way,
would we do more, would we grow
fiercer about ending this atrocious art?
Because you, my friend, are there,
the war is here. I look out my window to see
clouds cover the morning sun. The wind
comes up, and stirs and whips
the trees. Even the sky knows: the war
has touched home. It’s here.