For the Men We Loved Who Never Returned from War
When they returned, we counted fingers, toes 
as if they had been reborn to us. We 

had given the best of our men, the ones 
who could split the earth with their hands and hoist 

whole trees to their brown shoulders. When we saw
their weeping, the aunts shushed our questions and 

said It’s the war, the warand it was dis-
tinction without difference. So many men 

we gave. So many wars. When I was 8, 
I caught B back in the spare room drinking. 

He stood up, looked me in the eye and closed 
the door between us without a word. While 

playing hide and seek with my cousins, I 
found E in the basement cabinets thrum-

ming hhuhnnn, hhuhnnn— rocking himself back and forth. 
He drew a finger to his lips, sweeping 

a hand to his head as if to gesture 
keep your head down, slid the door against me, 

shut himself back up in it like a box. 
So many men we knew. So many wars. 

I learned this as a child. This is how the 
world is made—we sent our men to her, got 

half the half she was willing to do with-
out. Line ourselves about them like joists and built

whole homes around the missing part.  Because 
the war, the war. So many wars. Because 

we love all the men we gave. Because love 
is our bluntest instrument. Between us 

love is steadfast, black, loaded as a gun.  
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