Smoking in the girls’ room, sneaking a drink, napping
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Not the Crusades or World Wars,
not Korea or Vietnam
but some unholy virus
has seized our boy on the naked beach
of his eighth year and it holds him
in a cell we cannot enter.
He is fevered and wild
and keeps invisible enemies at bay
with his bare hands.
You tell him you are his father
but it doesn’t matter.
The small hanger of his shoulders lifts —
he is focused and angry, upright
but still sleeping
and he’s out to kill you, too.
Our son told me a dream
he once had. He was
a knight among many knights
on a high castle wall
and was pierced by an arrow
and fell and fell and fell.
He was just like the rest of us:
a slave, a carrier of rock, servant
to some diseased king.
At the hospital the doctors are bright
foolish men in white coats.
But I love them for their kindness.
It is the only real food we have
at this moment.
I’m thinking of someone’s daughter
who, at ten, one day in June,
could not walk straight.
She died in October.
It is still October.
Parents are weeping all over the world.