Weight of Memory by Chella Courington

I am not a silent poet

Bombs were falling on Vietnam

like hard rain over my garden. July

peas gave their first growth for canning

and my cousin Jim left for boot camp.

Thirty years later, I stare at photographs

of Iraqi prisoners, most my cousin’s age,

hooded and stripped, stacked in a pyramid.

An American soldier teeters on top,

someone’s daughter and already fatigued.

Like Jim, she’ll never come back, not really—

not the girl with half-shut eyes splitting threads

of a baseball, knocking it beyond bleachers

into a galaxy of spitting stars, hot

and nameless, too new for the Milky Way.

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