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THE TASTE OF WAR

January 17, 2021

She tells me how her father foraged for mushrooms 

in the Black Forest, Nazis stalking him as he fled. How 

after the war ended, he could never eat a mushroom again. 

*

How primal the scent of gunpowder and hunger—

the pheromones of fear, the fierceness of love making 

when we know all could lost. And in our moment of history

*

Mars rises with the harvest moon—and desperate men 

raise flags hoping to fill the ache with feasts of power. 

But they are not sated—not with the burning of the Amazon, 

*

or with militias that steal people away in the night. 

Not with women on their arms who have gone vacant 

and forgotten the curve of the moon. Not with stealing 

*

piles of gold and wheat and rounding up starving children 

on the borders. This is a hunger that wants war. Perhaps

these men never tasted the sweetness of earth’s milk.

*

Perhaps beauty never cracked the heart, or perhaps tears

could never flow to wash the soul clean. Instead, the charge,

the threats, the posturing that rips countries apart 

*

and builds walls against our own nightmares. Instead, 

this hall of mirrors where there is only one face reflected—

for all others have dropped their guns and run home 

*

to their lovers to grow gardens and bake bread. Yes, the others 

have grown tired and thin with the taste of war on the lips—

a bitterness no sweet cannot dissolve. What is it that will finally 

*

return the war hungry ones in all of us to the awe of northern lights—

the beacon of the pole star, to sun on bare skin, to a moment 

when we knew we belonged to something beyond the too steady 

*

beat of machines? For we have become toy soldiers

in fantastic war games. And yet even the toy soldier trembles, 

cries out in the night, remembers the prayer it was born with. 

*

Yes, even the toy soldier longs for the kapok trees full of monkeys, 

the true kiss of a loved one freely given—this kiss that heals.

For perhaps it is in this longing that the toy soldier can remember 

*

he is not real, that this armor is only artifice, that this ash on his hands 

from this burning can be washed clean. And freed from the spell, 

he can run back to the forest of his own heart, foraging 

*

for what has been lost. And in time he can look into the eyes

of the stars and rock the babies of the world against his chest.

Yes in time, he can exhale and simply rest in the arms of love. 

***

©Laura Weaver

LauraWeaver.org

luminouspoetry.com

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