"It's your rabbit," the officer told the soldier
who pointed his rifle at the fleeing enemy
child. The child was quick in the wheat,
so it took three shots before he tumbled
into the afterlife. Many years later
I put down my book about the war
and walk under the oaks' black branches
to where the snow has capped all the cars
in the elementary school parking lot.
The rooftops glitter meanly.
I have never killed anything and
look at me. I am like the boss of hell.
In the silent movie, the moon
took a rocket to the face and never
stopped smiling. Tonight its ashes
scatter over the rooftops. No, snow.
Of all the people he murdered,
that soldier could not forget how
the child swayed a moment in the wheat
before disappearing under the sea of it.
I once found a bullet casing right here
on this sidewalk and, not far from it,
a stain. How could I not imagine
the rest of that story? The cars
grow cool and dire in the parking lot,
and the sodium lights hum like enormous
insects. The soldier wrote a whole book about
what he had done, but it didn't help.
Come on and snow all over me,
come on and shower me with ash.
The sky is bone. The moon is a hole
in some body's skull.
New England Review
Volume 36, Number 1 / 2015