Nancy L. Meek and Charles L. Weatherford

WHAT PRICE, WAR?

The characters carved their way into her soul
like a hot knife through butter,
Melting the barrier between knowing and wondering
if he would come home okay.
How could three innocent letters of the alphabet
compel her heart to suddenly flutter
Grasping at elusive straws of hope for the love of her life,
classified simply as M.I.A.?

His picture on the wall was handsome in uniform
and reassuringly serene.
Gone missing. Whereabouts unknown.
Captured? Dead? The Army didn’t know.
She didn’t know. The letter reported he went off on patrol.
After that, he was just never seen.
She was angry and wanted to do something.
She laughed at herself; bitter tears flowed.

Her endless heartache grew, torn between grieving,
disbelieving and praying it wasn’t true
How could this happen to him, to them,
to their newborn son who had yet to meet him
“Oh, God! You look so much like your daddy!
If he isn’t found, what are we going to do?”
She wanted to scream, to run, to hide, anything,
something that might bring him home to them.

But there was nothing for her to do but wait, and hope.
Hope that he was safe and would come home.
M.I.A. Missing in Action. Her thoughts swirled ‘round and ‘round
all by themselves with no stopping.
She sat at her vanity; looking at her tear-streaked face in the mirror,
she again stood to roam.
Seeking solace in the touchstones of marriage, in her child,
she again started wandering.

Out of the bedroom and down the hall,
she looked in cupboards at pots and pans neatly stacked.
She inventoried the foods in the pantry
seeing they needed nothing for several days.
She glanced at the photographs on the wall once more,
still wandering in a daze, shocked.
She thought again of her newborn son,
meandering back to where he slept so she could gaze.

Walking to his crib, she watched his chest rise and fall.
“Such a fragile thing,” she thought.
This gift of life, like delicate crystal, so easily shattered
Placed in clumsy hands, it will break.
Scattered pieces, never again to be made whole…
to be the beautiful and useful vessel it ought.”
She thought of his father, scattered by the hands of war
“Oh, what price for freedom’s sake!”

Submitted for the May 2002 IWVPA Club Theme Project, “Missing in Action