Fort Stewart Memorial

there are women who carry ashes of the dead

pressed to their chests, silver heart lockets gleaming in Georgia sun

private sepulchers, invisible death dangling from necks

ground up bone, warm and dark, swaying slightly

as they walk onto Cottrell Field, into the memorial trees

a pale white pathway leading nowhere, with hundreds nestled

in circular sod containers, enclosing both sides

some sit in leafy shadows, patches of cool shade

speaking their mind’s memory

to the growing trunk of war’s taking

 

“Warrior’s Walk,” they call it, where

the roots of young Redbuds are formed by

improvised explosive devices detonating

or suicide vehicles crashing near Najaf

or roadside bombs destroying humvees

a growing memorial, a forest no one wanted

man manifested into a plant upon the earth

Emerson’s nature now living dead

 

a dozen branches, branching out, the heart-shaped

leaves smelling like mint and fresh mowed grass

shiny, with transparent veins, stopping sunlight

whirring with wind’s circular motion, forever stuck

until with winter they die and fall one by one

landing on

 

Stanley J. Lapinski, Ronnie Shelley, Greg Sanders,

Michael Pederson, Paul Ray-Smith, Benyahmin B. Yahudah

names lit at night

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