A town, a mile away, floats in space.
The moon, with its dreary light,
seems so much closer.
On flat desert sands,
the wind goes looking for trouble,
in the eyes of the doctors, the nurses,
in their makeshift operating theater,
so one hand wipes the face,
and the other readies the bandages.
And the cry of restless air
pierces the afternoon
like gunfire without bullets,
unloosens the insects
that feast of the skin
or are swatted to death in numbers.
At least, night rolls in
and brings with it a certain stillness.
Day doesn’t end so much as wear out.
A soldier, seated at a rough table
on even rougher ground,
is penning a letter home.
But then a shell is fired
from somewhere in the darkness.
It starts with prayer,
lands in a hellish blast
two hundred yards away.
He grips tight to the pen,
freezes in mid-sentence,
He has more thoughts than he needs,
like how a man could die
before he signs off on his message.
It’s one more wound to go with all the others.