The Impotence of Wives, poem by Ysabel de la Rosa

      Today’s news: F16 down in Iraq.
      Is it—yes, it is. Their squadron: 524,
      Hounds of Heaven. The calm reporter
      tells you heaven has claimed one.
      But which?

      You gather, the few of you, in a room
      that once held a husband in it every day,
      a quiet space where black electronic boxes
      will tell you: something. But when?

      You wait. You watch. You listen.
      Impotent. There is nothing, nothing
      you can do. God, yes, you hope and pray,
      but you, no. You are impotent now,
      utterly removed from spheres of action
      or solution. The silence of the hours closes
      in on you, pushes you well beyond worry
      and ever closer to the precipice of a shock
      you can never be ready for, that you must
      always, somehow, be ready for. But how?

      Then, by phone, the news after the news.
      So brief the words, so great the relief.
      It’s him. This time. And for one other
      wife, it’s not. This time.
      And never will be again.

      Great courage it takes to go into battle.
      Great courage it takes to wait, powerless, in love.

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Joel Morgan