poem: War and Back Again

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By Melissa Swann:

shore leave, years ago

too many to keep count now, all he knows

is it had to be around the time

he stopped remembering how to not feel bare

without the uniform on

 

a girl with eyes too bright for the thick

exploited air of a mining town, outside
a building that belongs somewhere else

her with it, and him too

all things displaced
dark hands stronger than they should be,

a tug on his shirtsleeve, wilting flowers

wrapped around wire and green

and those too bright eyes

wide and looking up at him
not as young as he thought

the trick of a hunched frame, and

her voice of short answers, clipped words

a broken language they try to share,
built of halves and gestures
sure with her newest creation, ‘crowns’

she calls them, placing one atop his head,

he’s already greying by then

and yet made king, cracked concrete

a fitting kerbside throne
something about it disturbs the scene

of a dirty good for nothing town, a war
raging on your doorstep,
one that far outlasts the tired flowers

already dying in his hair

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