Friday, March 29, 2024

War and Peace

There is much ado about guns
and cannons and then nothing.
There are troops and last-minute marriages
and lingering farewells at a train station,

fingertips touching vanishing fingertips
as the passenger car slides away
to a wave of tears and uneasy applause.
And then there is a great sigh of relief,

the return to the hometown or the farm,
afternoon naps on a sagging porch,
eyes sequestered by a floppy hat
to keep away gnats and dreams of shell shock.

And in between lies the truth, lies everything.
Everything—the day’s stock-in-trade—keeps it all going.
It’s how war begets peace, how peace gives birth to war.
Swords become plowshares, plowshares become swords.

To everything there is a season.
The old man polishes the long barrel of a carbine.
The young man enters No Man’s Land
in a war, they said, that would end all wars.

~William Hammett

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