POV #2 – A Poem
For my friend, my husband, Raoul
By Jane Tawel
We stand shoulder to shoulder, necks stiffened by staring eyes.
They robbed us of our weaponry, so sometimes our fingers brush against the other’s,
like frightened moths caught in a moldy flour sack.
I know your love is mostly loyalty now, like any good person of your rank.
Mine has passed from need of care to need of life, and I troop on.
We shoulder on.
We soldier on.
I’ve served under you for twenty some years now, but the war position keeps changing on us.
Who are yon enemies, we love more than our own lives, those four
who seem four thousand fighters in the heat of the fray?
We have lost so many battles to these beloveds.
Our arms hang slack, shoulders shivering in fearful exhaustion.
From where will the next onslaught come?
I see the grey smoky stains inerasable under your eyes.
My flesh hangs loose with womb weariness,
I, the mother of all wars,
birthing these adored combatants over and over again.
You want to abort the mission, sometimes, my darling,
I know. I know.
What a laugh they named it friendly fire.
The enemy’s reckless skirmish on the world, hurts more
than our taking a direct hit–
I’d welcome a slash across the throat sometimes.
You sometimes think of honor with a sword.
Your manhood shivers at their powerful nonchalance.
My war cry crones into the silence of their casual strategies.
There are days we comrades feel like pushing the other, in the path of destruction
and turning traitor, like we used to do.
But our mutual still hemorrhaging scars
have congealed us immovable,
a standing army of two, whether we want to keep waging or not;
we’ve both grown too old in the service to look for civilian careers now.
We have to die on the battlefield upright, giving it all we’ve got
against the pillaging hoard of four.
We shoulder on, we soldier on.
Our limbs tremble with the effort and all we want to do in these decaying dusks
is pull up our tents and retreat.
But, oh my love, my Captain!
In the throes, you have stood beside me, shoulder to shoulder,
now taking a verbal bullet, now a lanced glance.
I wish my heart were purple–
I could offer it as a medal
in a card for you on Father’s Day.
Remember those four fateful mornings?
You unfurled the flag and charged straight ahead,
into the war at home.
Why didn’t they warn us? There are no surviving veterans in this war?
And we shoulder, soldier on.
We shoulder, soldier on.
I remember, Mighty Warrior, my husband,
oh, how I recall, when your touch was full frontal in the dawn.
Now we have to keep our eyes love-locked straight, two sentinels, side by side,
peering out for our enemies that we treasure more than life
fearfully, anxiously you and I, volunteering for the night watch
keeping the door unlocked and safe for them
when they come home to crash for the night.