Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Strangers of War

© 2009 by Karen Van Fossan

Strangers of War

There was a woman whose name
I have never known.
The syllables of her name would have been sharp against my tongue,
had I ever tried to pronounce them,
which I did not.

The woman was not my friend.
Her God was not my friend –
nor her sisters, nor her brothers, nor the children of her home.

She rose from soil I have never seen,
singing a prayer
I will never sing,
wiping the hands of children I do not recognize.

The secrets in her eyes will never
flash upon my eyes –
holding hope, like laughter,
in our throats.

The woman was not my friend –
nor her sisters.

Her brothers held their arms against
my brothers.
My neighbors sent soldiers
across the sea
to fight her neighbors.
We were enemies, they said.
She was my enemy, they said.

Never, not for a moment, did I believe them.

The syllables of my name would have been sharp against her tongue.

And yet –
I miss her.


JGH said...

It brought me to tears!! How I love your writing!!

JGH said...

It's me again. Great news coverage! Thanks for making it so easy for me to watch.

Thomas M. Disselhorst said...

Karen, keep up the good work and you can send all the messages you want !!! The effort of yourself and many others across the country is the only way we keep our leaders accountable. Initially, you may not be persuasive as you would like to be, or get the response you seek, but these efforts make it possible for leaders to recognize and act on opportunities for disengagement from war which ultimately saves a lot of lives.

The example of this kind of work, for me, has always been Bertrand Russell, the British philosopher and pacifist, who (in his 80’s and 90’s no less) made it possible for the effort for nuclear arms reduction to gain a political foothold in the middle of the so-called “cold war”.

Thanks again!

Thomas M. Disselhorst

blogslut said...

Wow! Very moving....

Magdalyn Guzzo said...

Here is a piece I wrote that reminded me of yours:

the unperfect thing i wrote on perfection's limits

People want to create for themselves and need others to share in the joy.

If I could build enough muscle to dive through earth’s limbo and swim into the universe, I would glide to Saturn and slide on his rings. A perfect rebellion against knowledge’s ownership of fact. The unknown is perfection. Creation arises in the defiance of definition.

All of it fast, elegant and alone.

Definition claims perfection through communal assent. Once we know it, though, its limits haltingly erupt into negatives. Frozen creativity. If it *is* it also *is not*. Words and stories are symbols that harness the *essence* of creation, open to interpretation they are dynamic subjects, magnetized by
time toward a center or common ground, like gravity’s rule.

All of it deliberately debated among plural earth’s creat*/*ures.

Perfection is lonely, though. Solemnly egotistical it needs *others* to know it and love it and define it into imperfection. Then we create again. Seeking another perfect ending.

So, I would discover Saturn’s adhesive and rock and build miles of ladder to throw down to your doorstop, gleeful, for once, to use gravity’s imperfect
definite weight, hoping madly that you’ll accept my invitation to share creation’s joy.

Anonymous said...

Magdalyn Guzzo, wonderful poem. It really takes me places. Thank you!

And Karen, thank you for your beautiful poem, capturing, as usual, the essence and the point of it all.