APRIL 6

You are not just sleeping with this one man, but with his whole life,
and sometimes it wakes you up and snatches him out of your arms.
For, you see, war often comes along and lies down between you like a child
afraid to be left alone in the dark.


War, he says, involves many numbers, let’s see —
two relatives equal one sack of bones,
one thousand three hundred ninety-five days of siege,
three packages of humanitarian aid: butter, canned goods,
powdered milk, three bars of soap.


Four armed men come for you,
show you their orders and then escort you out into the night.
During the walk across the city
you hear missiles flying over your head — twice.


. . . Five times they take you out of the barracks
to a ditch where forty-three lay rotting
and each time you think: I will finally die
and tell God that it was a lame joke.


But they throw you face down into the dirt
and take their sweet time pressing a gun to your head.
Since then, he says, I don’t like to dream,
these kinds of memories, they aren’t fitting for a man.


You run through the woods, they shoot at your back,
a bullet hits your thigh but all you feel is this dirt on your face.


That’s when a leafless tree of pain grows
in your chest, pulsating.
And I don’t respond because what do you say to that
I just keep wiping the dirt off his face, over and over again,
even while he’s sleeping,
even while he’s away.