Commentary

A Poem About War

How do you write a poem about war?
Do you start with the little girl
Crossing the soil that her grandfather loved,
Holding her cat?
Or do you begin with the Russian boys
Conscripted into tragedy,
Conviction not appearing on command?
Maybe you begin with the old men sheltering in subways
And the ones who have seen two wars already
Standing guard outside.
Maybe you begin in the basement of the hospital
Where nurses rock babies,
Blessing beyond religion.
Maybe you begin with a President who values
The sound of democracy more than
His own living voice.
But of course the question is never really
How do you begin a poem about war,
But always “how does it end?”
It ends when everyone–
The little girl,
The conscripted soldiers,
The old men,
The babies,
The nurses,
The President–
Can lie down under our shared stars,
And sleep,
Then wake to sunflowers growing.

By Laura Martin