Christina A. Sharik


The Soldier’s Lament

If you ask us why we died,
we might say our fathers lied
about their pride –
but not mine –
Mine wouldn’t lie
He’d gone to war
survived, came home,
married mom – had me…
I think of all the things
that were his to see –
He wouldn’t wish such
misery on me –
would he?
Did he want that for me?
Was he so proud of me?

And what mother would
let a father say
“ We’re proud, my son, go off to war –
be shot to bits, come home
alive or broken,
or not at all”
How could that be?
Did they want that for me?

The Mother’s Reply

Oh, but we did.
We were so proud of
you –
for there was nothing else to do –
no other way to bear the pain
of watching you get on a plane –
except to say “we’re proud” –
We say we’re proud,
and we are, when our sons
and daughters leave for war.
You never realized, though,
that behind the pride
was a metallic fear
a pain so real that we could feel
the bullet pierce your skin –
We felt a deep and terrible,
paralyzing fear, a need
to keep you here; to wrap
our arms around you and
keep you safe within.

You ask, how could we say goodbye?
We carried you for 9 months
we felt you move inside us –
we knew you before your birth –
and then were asked, at last,
to consign
you to the Mother Earth –

We caught you before you fell –
we kissed the cuts and made them well –
How then could we send you off to War?
Nothing to do but just be brave
bite the bullet,
smile “that smile”
that Mothers do, while we’re crying
all the while.
You never saw us
grip the pillow in our sleep
you never heard us softly weep
Because you’re gone,
our beloved son
and there was nothing we could do.

So, then maybe the real reason
that you died
wasn’t because some politician lied –
Maybe it’s because your mother
simply smiled that “good bye smile”
and cried.