A soldier brings his torn field jacket
“So much blown to pieces,” he says.
She carries the heavy scent of tobacco
and you can almost see the charred buildings in her eyes like gravestones.
“There’s always someone who wants to break the world,” she answers.
She leads him to her bed again
where he can take her to the forgetting places
and he strokes her hair
and his lips trespass all along her breasts
as he claims her for his inviolate country.
And later when they share a cigarette
—even as a bomb falls nearby
and even as he startles—
she makes him promise to come back to her
even if he is lying.
Then she grieves for everyone this war has smashed
—the ones she knows and the ones she doesn’t—
because you cannot stitch them back together
while she traces a finger along a ridge of muscle on his bare shoulder
and whispers a protective mantra for him.
Finally after he leaves
she pushes her face in the torn bedclothes
and inhales his memory
even as she hears the distant crack of a rifle
even as she prays the bullet did not find him
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