Lee Sharkey

In vigil (2)

If the whole body is a heart, then the woman who steps out of the car with Texas plates to yell at the
silent peace vigil is a heart overlaid with hate
I have two children in the war and let me tell you: They are the heroes, you don’t deserve to walk this earth
A mouth pursed over pain
I’ll take the opportunity to tell you about my family. My son’s no “stupid soldier”—got a master’s degree. He
went to Iraq to bring democracy

Slides into her car’s steel shell and slams the door. Glass can’t hide what’s writhing up her, what compels
her to climb out and tell
Now he lives from minute to minute…
Do any of you know what it’s like to be up all night, every minute thinking
School photo of a dark-haired girl, blurred under plastic. She shows it, half grandmother-proud, half
defiant. She’s seven and misses her daddy. A little girl needs her daddy
No! jumps back, I don’t care what you have to say
But I am forming words for her. I want to touch her cheek and say them
I recall the waiting room, the surgeon’s teeth, the monitor, months of terror, my own son’s heart set
totally on his pain
I would wrap my arm around her, pull her close, say quietly, I see what it would cost to see your country
has betrayed you

Lee Sharkey
“In vigil (2)” is from A Darker, Sweeter String (Off the Grid Press, 2008).