CM ( / )

War Wounds

Bronze florescence buzzes and winces;
above me masked faces hover,
voices beat
the stale old tattoo:
you’re going to be okay
you’re going to be okay
you’re going to be okay…

They have tossed promises to the sky.
I try to catch them as they rain upon me
like the shrapnel that pierced my skin.

The pain chews at every limb,
turns the air blue, waters the eyes, tears
my breath in two.
But it’s all right. I knew
what I was getting myself into.

I can see why they hate me.
The needle-nosed doctors burn me
with antiseptics, cleaning fluid, Lysol,
rags to sop up the blood.

At least I’m far from the heat blasted hills,
laying here like a crucified martyr, arms
outstretched, shrouded like a mummy,
mastering the art of decay, the glory of fear.

They’ve cut my clothes away with scissors
that have soaked in bright blue fluid,
exposing the scars of old injuries:

a bike accident, criss crossed tracks from broken
beer bottles bestowed on me after a rowdy night
with the boys, a stubbed toe, a broken arm
from falling out of a tree I climbed as a child.
They all seem so benign now.

At night the windows glow much as they always did;
behind them ordinary life ticks along, despite
the curfew. Lights from houses wink on
and off, mica in the sun.

I can’t sleep.
The last gaseous inhalation nearly wiped me out.
I can’t risk that again.
I stare at the bruised walls.
A placard of green canvas is wheeled into position,
separating me from the others.

They moan and howl like old cats;
they are as nameless as me:
a serial number, a military ID, perhaps
a nickname affectionately endowed them
by the others who are doomed.
The nurses stab them with needles or crank a valve
on a limpid tube and dump them
back into unconsciousness.

At dawn the orderlies come to take me away.
Suddenly, I’m important to them again.
They have expunged the shrapnel from my body;
they show me little vials where it hangs
like an aborted fetus.
They lift me in my sarcophagus. I am
Caesar on his sedan.

I am cleansed, scrubbed pink as a newborn.
I’m ready to go home again.

by Caroline Misner

Comments (1)

impressive in its use of figurative language (simile, metaphor, etc) vivid and memorable