Casualty Poem


At dusk, what hand dropped the metal bulb
Down the narrow tube, lifting it skyward?
I was dreaming the moment the plummeting
Brightness struck, a dim noise, I was lifted
Floating above myself, below
The soft fiery puffs of mortar shells
The firefly tracer paths
The glow of skittering shrapnel
Then all at once
When I crashed down
This lifting gift upended.
In my absence, only my beating
Heart, everything breathing.
Turning about, I woke to help them
But stumbled, fell
The back of my head, my chest, too wet,
Too warm for comfort. Someone
Held my arms, legs, pressed white cloth
Dim voices, “…not gonna make it.”
Then waiting in the green trembling thing
Doctors and more blood, this time good.
A year of red dust, red rain.
Years to unlearn it.
Of late, in the hills where I live,
When the moon is low
The frozen sky flecked by starlight
In those still moments, by that hand
My darkness disarmed, I am uplifted.


Marc Levy

First published in The Comstock Review, December  2017

photo: Tony Swindell