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Soon, the time will come
to discuss gun control and mental illness
acceptance and perhaps the consequences of rejection
For new laws
and action plans
but for now can we refrain?
Pausing to offer
prayer and reverence
as they cross into the Light
*Diana, it is my deepest honor that you liked and shared the Casualties of War piece. Sometimes an image comes to me and if I give it space, it reveals its story...I just get to write it down...all this to say, sometimes the process is equally surprising/chilling for me too...Anyway, in 1996, while teaching in S. Africa, I attended the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Hearings in Cape Town and Joburg. Apartheid ended in '93 so I came three years into the new era but the wounds of Apartheid were still very fresh for the country. During that time, I met many survivors of Apartheid and witnessed hundreds of their testimonies. It was all too evident that all human beings carry the ability to do great good and terrible ill.... it is the duality of human nature....Ultimately it all comes down to choices. The testimonies shared by the survivors of Apartheid were beyond any horror most of us can ever imagine. However, time after time, the survivors FORGAVE. When asked, they sought only what they needed...a proper burial, school fees for the children that remained, food, medical expenses etc. One woman wanted only medical care to remove the bullet lodged in her vagina after the perpetrat
There is nothing civil about this perdition that shackles me
days on and off the battle field churn slowly like years
entrenched under this quivering canopy
nothing is sturdy in this wretched landscape
Outside, the once green prairie grass is engulfed by blood mud
inside, the strained voices of other nurses
and moaning of patients
blend into one
A loathsome symphony of pain
coming in and out of my perception
as distant cannons and nearing bullets
drum the sky, shaking out the stars each night
Arms flailing without their rightful bodies
legs torn, detached from their home
I stitch up what I can and cut off what I can not
just a few drops of whisky remain
Those arriving in a moment's notice
will clamp down their pain with a wooden spoon
death does not differentiate
between North and South
The smell of blood is thick, wreaking of iron
my sterilizing bucket, murky with tissue and blood
even the serrated saw seems to be dulling
this war lingers on beyond my contempt of it
I loathe it and the price of freedom
And what of the wedding bands on amputated arms?
The letters stuffed in the pant pockets of amputated legs?
Where do I put these sacred casualties of war?
No hallowed ground has been consecrated for such bereavement
What will two thousand headstones look like?
as the stains continue to layer on my tattered uniform
I meld into these soldiers that lay in front of me