Wounded Soldiers

Wounded Soldiers

Image courtesy of Marlon Bundy MMX

Wounded Soldiers

I.

When we woke, the room glittered with wounded soldiers,
the sun imprisoned in prismatic bottles,
pale sweat shimmering on your skin.
Intoxication perfumed the air:
sharp sour hops, burn of liquor,
cherry fumes of your hair.

We chose those bottles for their foreign names,
wild tastes, and the fantasies on the front labels.
The silver-glint horn of a unicorn gazed down from my bookshelf,
hobgoblins collapsed on the carpet, fairies dancing on my desktop,
bumbleebee on my bed-stand, black widow on my windowsill.

Do you trust me?

II.

On the ground that morning, your clothes strewn,
not like seeds, but casualties.
And even on the nights we didn’t drink a drop,
the morning found two wounded soldiers perspiring,
cold beads of frosty sweat sliding down their glassy necks.

When the war wound down
and it was time to count the wounded and the dead,
your goodbyes were easy to bury,
but I was haunted by every injured hello
I couldn’t heal.

Do you love me?

III.

You told me you found nobility in retreating,
but I wish you’d held your ground.
I was bleeding to surrender at the next sky-splitting
of your heart beating its war-drum sounds.

I cling to the every one of this sheet’s 600-count frayed threads
as if they were grenade pins. I remember that first morning.
When we woke, the room glittered with wounded soldiers,
the sun imprisoned in prismatic bottles,
pale sweat shimmering on your skin.
Do you have to run?
What will be left when these mornings are gone?
The conspicuous absence of your warm imprint in my bed,
the seething absinthe of your whispers writhing in my head,
and the yesterday kiss of a wounded soldier
feeling heavier than brimming, hollower than last-drop drained,
for all its half-filled empty.

Do we have to give up the fight?
Do we have to fight at all?
Can’t we just lie here? Can’t we just lie
—together—a little longer?


 

This is a rough draft of a poem that I originally thought of a year and a half ago. Given the way the romance turned out, I’ve been reluctant to dive into the poem—and I have trouble judging its quality. I’d love your feedback.

Cheers,

Rob