Written in Clouds
For Les Kay, USMC, Vietnam
Now you're a buddy mucking
ten yards away with a rifle,
identical as an armed popcorn
in the enemy's crosshairs, then
you're saying hello darkness.
Now you see,
now you don't.
Is anyone ever ready?
Do you get an explanation?
Or does the water that was you,
that was seventy percent of you,
reenter the cycle and shed your name?
Evaporating, condensing, purifying,
quenching, forming ice crystals
and rainbows, the same water
for billions of years recycled
in the planet's breathing helix:
Molecules of this shape-changing skyscape
must once have been you,
Morales. They must have been you,
Woody, Armstrong, Moses.
Doc, Peters, Capadano. Good Marines,
all of you.
Faster Than Light: New and Selected Poems, 1996-2011
Louisiana State University Press
Copyright © 2012 by Marilyn Nelson
All rights reserved.
Reproduced by Poetry Daily with permission