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Warscape with Lovers

Scent of Plumeria, and the smell of burning.
Not one or the other, but both. Destruction, and the blossom.
Sweetheart, I'm afraid. That boy with the rifle breaks
the catechism in two. And in two. Let me
see us whole, beside the sea. My body
busy, paying attention to yours. Already

we rock each other with our voices. Already
we're braiding the invisible cord. That burning
hut on T.V. isn’t ours, but could be. My body
could be hers, child at dead breast. That blossom
of blood and bone could be your face. Let me
say truth: no place, no one, is safe. The breaking 

of vows, we know, is a given. Sweetheart, you’ll break
my heart. I’ve broken yours, but look: already
you love me again. Destruction and the blossom: let me
say it another way: that soldier, burning
to become fabulous, torches the thatch (see blossomy
flame) of the enemy’s hospital: cut to my body,

clay taking shape in your hands. Body by body,
war piled on war: when will the heart break
all the way open? Thunder of mortar, blossom
in the gutter. The soldier firing the mortar already
dead. How we live: running from the burning
field, into each other's arms. Let me

lie along your side. Give me something to hold. Let me
ride those waves pouring from your fingers. The bodies
of the disappeared toll like bells. Our koan burns:
it cannot be solved. The whole and the broken,
dream and nightmare: your hand in my hair, already
familiar, could be the torturer's. Vase and its blossoms

camouflage for the bomb. You love where you can. Blossom:
a thing of promise. That's us. Now: let me
let this go. Our glass, half full—already
there's more—swells toward the rim. Ours the bodies
the death squads passed by. The refugees make a break
for the fence, running for their lives, crossing this burning,

broken, blossoming Century. They've already
paid our dues. Sweetheart, let me show you how,
hand on the body's book, now swear the burning vow.

From Warscape with Lovers (Cleveland State University Poetry Center, 1997). Copyright © 1997 by Marilyn Krysl. Used with permission of the author.

From Warscape with Lovers (Cleveland State University Poetry Center, 1997). Copyright © 1997 by Marilyn Krysl. Used with permission of the author.

Marilyn Krysl

by this poet

poem

I was so small, so very much afraid.
I prayed my father might turn into light.
There was no price that I would not have paid

to pray the way the light knelt down and prayed.
I prayed that I might learn to be like light,
but I was small, and very much afraid,

and he stayed silent. Was

poem
Looking back now, I see 
I was dispassionate too often, 
dismissing the robin as common, 
and now can't remember what 
robin song sounds like. I hoarded
my days, as though to keep them 
safe from depletion, and meantime 
I kept busy being lonely. This 
took up the bulk of my time, 
and I did not speak to
poem

It’s no use walking the beasts of my longing without you, compañero,
you whose name means stone the sun

moves across. Remember our house, and the statuary of clouds
drifting through the rooms? And the sheets and blankets of our habits