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Memorial Day

Today marks an important time to stop and remember with gratitude all that the men and women who have served in our military have done for us and continue to do. We are able to "assume" peace, in large part, thanks to them. They deal with a vastly imperfect world, trying to make our world better, and they pay a very, very high price, as do their families. It's also a good day to remember that we need to think of them every day, that wherever a war theater may be, it claims a part of the stage on which we all live. The language gives us a clue. There contains here. Wherever our soldiers may be, wherever "there" is, they should also be here, in our thoughts, our prayers, our hearts.


for John

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 living inside hell’s jaws,

all the while thinking that this war

is over there—somewhere—

till now.

I have looked into your honest green eyes,

witnessed your quiet strength and

integrity, felt your radiant goodness

and courage. You are real. As real

as the war that is no longer over there

for me, but here, 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.

Copyright, Ysabel de la Rosa, 2010. All rights reserved.

The above poem appeared in Arabesques Review.


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