Note to readers: This poem written in 1999 is for me filled with echoes and ironies born right now out of the Russian war on Ukraine. I pray for peace.
All week we stand in high school auditoriums
repeating the stories of an old war
triggering in the chests of invited aging veterans
the pain of dying men, lost children sobbing.
They meet us afterward, tell their stories
All week the breaking news—new bombings
new anger herding entire cities
of frightened families into boxcars,
caravans of refugees massing
at the borders.
All week the rumors–
rape, mutilation, murder,
more mass graves.
All week we repeat our stories to children whose brothers,
uncles, fathers are shipping out, are already there,
children who go pale, sink into their seats
or shift, snort and poke each other
to shut us out.