Collateral Damage

by | May 26, 2009 | Poetry | 0 comments

Up and up to the high pasture,
a barefoot child of six or so, along
the track, skipping as she goes,
and singing a green song.

Bringing bread and cheese and water
for the old man where he waits,
not for the food, though man must eat,
but for the child, the one granddaughter,
only child of the son he will see no more,
fallen far away in someone else’s war.
She rounds the rocks and comes again,
as she comes each day, singing still,
to the open pasture that waits for rain.

Death comes unannounced
in one loud scream.
Then a receding roar, an empty sky,
nothing but echoing silence, crying
‘Why, oh why?’

Of his flock a few stand dazed
among the dying and the dead.
He lies spread-eagled on the grass,
sightless eyes, a stream of blood
trickling under the broken head.

Soon will be rain, the grass will green,
the lambs will come, the fields be tilled.
Men will return that have not been killed,
but nothing will fill that empty space
where a child is singing a broken song
for all the things that might have been.


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