When slaughter ends—a pause between
hostilities is all we really hope for—but if for a season,
a decade, a hundred years—We brew beer in the basement,
barrels and barrels, a rose blossoms.  A woman sitting
in a café elevates her chin ever so slightly as she turns
her head.  You watch from a safe distance.

She is waiting for someone else.  The rub. 

A boy joins the union Army because he believes
the girl will find him handsome in uniform. 
Months later he is walking through an old
battlefield of shallow graves, arms protruding
from the ground.  The girl has died—some fever
passing through town.

The war continues.  The rub.

Bury the dead, the hallowed dead.  Speeches
and hats and ties.  Young men sporting beards.
They sing at night across the battlefield—
to their cousins, to die in the morning sun.
She turns her head—to see her in profile
is enough.


First published in Mojave River Press & Review