America is at war, my oldest son,

Says, just seven years old, now,

And I am unloading a dishwasher,

Taking out china plates that are

Clean like faces, and stacking them.

And they are teaching him about war,

At school, but he cannot remember

How his own father was sent to war,

Left us for fifteen months,

Boots-on-ground in Afghanistan,

Because he was only two, then,

And because we tell him,

Not about the war,

Or terrorists and bombs,

The dead bodies lined up,

Along a dusty highway that runs out of Kabul,

But about Afghanistan, instead,

Its magical rocks, the deep blue lapis stone,

And how the mountains seem to grow there,

Or how his father went to Afghanistan to help,

To build a school, to teach, and about the men,

The Afghans, with their large pawkul hats, men

With goats and children and houses made of mud,

Who call my husband, his father, their brother.

And it is late now, and he is sleeping, our son,

And I am standing in a doorway, watching him,

Legs flung across a bed, his small chest rising up,

And then falling down, and I am thinking about it,

About war, and how I want him to know

That a country doesn’t go to war, people do,

People with hearts and bones and skin,

People that can kill and be killed,

Their bodies left lying there,

On a road, dead and in groups,

Like continents.

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2 Responses to Country

  1. karlapr says:

    Very lovely. I have a poem in a recent post about checking on my son at night when he was seven.

  2. karlapr says:

    Six, actually. : )
    Just read this again and think it is a near perfect poem. Especially the details (the plates, the hats of the Afghan men).

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