Archive for September, 2008

September 2, 2008

“Marching Cadence”

The grass trembles like a note wafting from a virtuoso’s violin. It shakes me too, in time. Allegro. But I can’t say that out loud—you married me for my strength.

“Is there where the shooting started?” you ask. You point to a spot as if I’m going to remember, as if I had marked it to tell you in later years. The shooting started everywhere in the field at once, like rain. I have no idea where the bullets began to pour.

“More or less,” I say. I want to say more—coming here was a mistake; I can’t explain what I saw, what I did; you should have let me keep some secrets. But you married me for my strength.

You pull me over to the thicker grass, where rotted rifles and rusted bayonets still lie. Bones and uniforms decay faster, thankfully. I was afraid you would ask if I recognized them. Instead you ask how many friends I lost.

“Too many.”

“How many?”

“I don’t remember.”

“How do you not remember?”

I shrug. Numbers are not the things that cling to memory from the grasslands—colors, scents, sounds. A bullet exiting a torso next to you, the blue sky hazing gray from gunsmoke, a canteen covered in red mud, and your throat so dry you drink from it anyway. These I could say, but instead I walk back towards home. You call after me to stop right there, mister.

But you married me for my strength.

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