Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Not a War Song

Why should I, searching the thesaurus
for synonyms for chant and cadence,
try to make various and alive the unremitting
noise of war? Army cadence, battle chant,
if the behavior's unique to our species,
each bird or whale or wolf in solitary
call (though I'm not sure that I believe
this when all the wolves my neighbor owns
start howling to a police siren), the words of war
are as dull as the armor of the ruthless
Diomedes who stalked the goddess of love
to harry and harass her from what had been the fields
and green pastures of Troy, now decimated
to an excremental slab of mud and limbs.
He pierced her veil of stars and fog to slash
her hand where bone meets palm. So war
is dependent for its reason and its myth
upon the desire of wounding someone's
lovely form, and the poet must be a solitary
singer (not necessarily nightingale, perhaps
common wren or western meadowlark,
its voice tightening across the distance),
singing a bleak and awkward beauty against
the commonality of war.

-Rebecca Seiferle